Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - February - 2006 Issue

Brazil from the Turtle Island Book Shop

Hans Staden (bearded) watches his hosts prepare a meal, thankful that for the moment, it is not he.


Item 25 is a biography of one of Brazil's leading figures of the twentieth century, Getulio Vargas. The book is, Vargas of Brazil. A Political Biography, by John W. Dulles. Vargas came to power in 1930, placed there after a military coup. While starting as somewhat of a moderate, he drifted steadily to the right. In 1937, with the first presidential election approaching, he dissolved Congress and seized full power. He emulated the European fascists and adopted some of the attributes of the Nazis, including anti-semitism. When war broke out, he tried to play both sides, as did Portugal and Spain during the period, but eventually sided with the allies when that appeared to best suit his interests. At war's end, however, with the nation experiencing major economic problems, the military overthrew Vargas after 15 years of rule. Nevertheless, the old dictator would make his way back in 1950 as the elected president. He served until 1954 when, with support crumbling around him, Vargas shot himself through the heart. $30.

Os Sertoes is considered to be Brazil's national epic. It recounts the rebellion in 1895 among rural followers of the messianic leader Antonio Conselheiro. Protesting new taxes levied against an impoverished rural community, Conselheiro developed a large following that would go into battle with the Brazilian military. Three times the government confidently sent forces into the countryside to defeat the rebels, and each time they were routed. For two years, they steadfastly held the soldiers at bay. It was not until the fourth attack was launched, a few weeks after Conselheiro died of a fever, that the rebellion was put down. The book was written by a member of that invading force, Euclides da Cunha. Item 20 is a copy of the first English translation of this epic, Rebellion in the Backlands, published in 1944. $200.

Flagrantes Do Brasil, by Jean Manzon, presents 200 photographs of Brazil from the 1950s. They show the coastal cities and inland territories, and the various cultures of Brazil. Text and captions are provided in both English and Portuguese. Item 44. $55.

Turtle Island Book Shop is located in Berkeley, California, and may be reached at 510-655-3413 or by email at Rwturtleisland@aol.com.

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