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The Brazilians [Paperback]

Joseph A. Page
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 6 1996
A country warmly hospitable and surprisingly violent, physically beautiful, yet appallingly poor-these are the contrasts Joseph Page explores in The Brazilians, a monumental book on one of the most colorful and paradoxical places on earth.Once one of the strongest market economies in the world, Brazil now struggles to emerge from a deep economic and social crisis, the latest and deepest nose-dive in a giddy roller-coaster ride that Brazilians have experienced over the past three decades. Page examines Brazil in the context of this current crisis and the events leading up to it. In so doing, he reveals the unique character of the Brazilian people and how this national character has brought the country to where it is today-teetering on the verge of joining the First World, or plunging into unprecedented environmental calamity and social upheaval. Not since Luigi Barzini's The Italians has a society been so deeply and accurately portrayed.

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From Publishers Weekly

Vast in area, rich in resources and uniquely integrated in racial composition, here is Brazil in all its beauty, contradictions, promises and disappointments. Page (Peron), whose love affair with the country spans 30 years, probes deep into the layers of Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, African and Indian heritage that make Brazil so alluring and paradoxical. Idealistic and pragmatic, exuberant and passive, its people have survived colonialism, slavery, dictatorships and populism and now struggle toward a viable capitalism in a society characterized by extremes of wealth and poverty. The successful synergism of many races-"miscegenation has been a common and accepted practice"-exists side by side with real discrimination. In this magnetizing study, Page also explores the meld of Catholicism and Pentecostalism, of native Indian healers and modern medicine, of African rhythms and Western music. He discusses the environmental and investment scenes as well as the addiction to soccer and to the telenovelas of the powerful Globus media empire, which so engross the population that the realities of life often seem to merge with their plots and characters. In its depth, scope and accessibility, this is an important work.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

It's not surprising that it would take 500-plus pages to define the Brazilians, and Page's definition is as remarkably cogent--given its length--as it is complete, compelling, and insightful. The spotlight in his "search for Brazilianness" illuminates all corners of this vast hemispheric neighbor of ours, achieving a many-angled perspective by drawing from events and traits in Brazilian history, politics, economics, natural history, and culture. His workable, wonderfully presented description of the Brazilian national character incorporates the impact of Portuguese, African, and indigenous Indian influences, the disproportion of wealth in the modern Brazilian state, the abundance of natural resources being squandered by ecological mindlessness, the easy coexistence of Roman Catholicism and African-based religions, and the peculiar personal psychology that leaves Brazilians at once charming and violent. No book substitutes for real experience, but this book runs a close second in terms of affording an understanding of Brazil. Brad Hooper --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb portrait of contemporary Brazil June 12 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Joseph Page's "The Brazilians" is a very enjoyable portrait of modern-day Brazil, quite possibly the best book on the country in English. Anyone traveling to Brazil for business or pleasure should read it. The book's jacket describes Page as a law professor at Georgetown, and with a lawyer's thoroughness and balance, Page explores the characteristics that make Brazil special -- the warmth, spontaneity and sensuality of the people, their unique blend of African, European and indigenous heritage, the music, soccer, Carnival, telenovelas -- without overlooking the country's often overwhelming problems, such as crushing poverty, environmental degradation, a boom-and-bust economy, violence and corruption.
Although Page presents a comprehensive view of Brazil, he unfortunately neglects two topics that should be part of any portrait of the country. The first is its much-maligned capital, Brasília, which gets hardly a mention in this book. Brasília's founding in the late 1950's, its rapid growth and its decline into a moth-eaten, sun-baked museum of outmoded architectural ideas could have filled an entire chapter. For an engaging and upbeat view of Brasília -- more positive than anything I've ever heard from the Brazilians themselves, all of whom seem to loathe their capital -- check out Alex Shoumatoff's "The Capital of Hope."
Page also doesn't say much about Brazilian food and drink, which is too bad, because from the moquecas of Pernambuco to the huge steaks of the South to the fish of the Amazon, Brazilian cuisine is a delight. A cup of Brazil's strong coffee accompanied by pão de queijo, a kind of popover laced with cheese, makes a breakfast fit for an emperor.
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By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I bought this book because I was planning a trip to Brazil and I wanted something that would provide me with a good frame of reference for my trip. In this capacity I was VERY satisfied. I particularly enjoyed the anecdotal style which made this a very easy read - It took me two evenings, and I was never tempted to skim / skip.
The book is colorful, and I am particularly grateful to the author for not neglecting popular culture in favor of socio-economic data. The chapters on telenovelas, the Carnival, and Soccer were particularly interesting and enlightening. I think it is great that he refers to book and movie portrayals of various events in his discussion of certain events - it helps bring everything together when he mentions, that scene in "The Mission..." A flood of images returns and suddenly everything is in a larger context. I thought it was superb that he spend careful attention discussing the history and character of various states. All too often, life outside the 'captial' cities of a country are neglected. Who would characterize the US by New York City or Russia by Moscow, or Japan by Tokyo?
The only downside is the portrayal of poverty and violence. While important topics, I came away with the impression that the author was arguing that Brazil was especially violent, poverty-stricken and unjust... I doubt that it is much more so than other lesser-developed countries, and probably some US inner-cities. Some un-baised comparative data would have been appropriate here to put it all in context.
For anyone planning to travel to Brazil that wants to get beyond the basic tourist-guide understanding of the country, I highly recommend the book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brazil: this book caught it! July 24 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Being a Brazilian myself, reading this book was like revisiting a very well known place, with the help of a different and outstanding "tourist guide". I could see my country, its history, its past and its present through highly qualified and sensitive eyes. Page's book is a brilliant analysis for a complex society. He gets exactly what is it that makes us Brazilians: diversity, multiplicity of influences, variety, lack of clear limits, lack of clear boundaries. I think Brazil is unpredictable, difficult to catch, even for people that have lived there all their lives. Page got the main traits, the most important aspects of Brazilian personality, the features that really make us Brazilians. Of course, one does not agree with everything that is written in the book. And, as a Brazilian, it is not easy to read the chapter about "the culture of brutality", for example. Also the author has some kind of "bias", probably related to the places where he lived in Brazil, towards Rio or Pernambuco (I am from Bahia, I can't help complaining...! If you read the book, you'll understand). But when my friends from other countries - usually curious and amazed about what they hear and see on the news - ask me what Brazil is, I have no doubts about where to send them to find an answer...
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars Brazil: this book caught it! July 24 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Being a Brazilian myself, reading this book was like revisiting a very well known place, with the help of a different and outstanding "tourist guide". I could see my country, its history, its past and its present through highly qualified and sensitive eyes. Page's book is a brilliant analysis for a complex society. He gets exactly what is it that makes us Brazilians: diversity, multiplicity of influences, variety, lack of clear limits, lack of clear boundaries. I think Brazil is unpredictable, difficult to catch, even for people that have lived there all their lives. Page got the main traits, the most important aspects of Brazilian personality, the features that really make us Brazilians. Of course, one does not agree with everything that is written in the book. And, as a Brazilian, it is not easy to read the chapter about "the culture of brutality", for example. Also the author has some kind of "bias", probably related to the places where he lived in Brazil, towards Rio or Pernambuco (I am from Bahia, I can't help complaining...! If you read the book, you'll understand). But when my friends from other countries - usually curious and amazed about what they hear and see on the news - ask me what Brazil is, I have no doubts about where to send them to find an answer...
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great research but a little outdated
This is a great book if you are interest in the history and culture of Brazil. It's obvious that the author did extensive research on the subject and he does a very good job... Read more
Published on April 15 2003 by Alexandre Freitas
4.0 out of 5 stars First rate overview of what makes Brazilians Brazilian
This book effectively captures the spirit of "brazilianess" and presents it to the reader in an easy to understand format. Read more
Published on Feb. 7 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative-- yet readable!
I wish my college textbooks had been written this well! Page's book is chock full of information about Brazil's history, politics, economy, culture, environmental issues,... Read more
Published on Oct. 24 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars The book on Brazil for the rest of us!
I have visited Brazil on two occasions and this book brought much of what I sensed into focus. It helped clear up some of the mysteries and left the rest intact. Read more
Published on March 22 2002 by Gerald Halpin
5.0 out of 5 stars Married to a Brazilian
My wife and I met in Seminary. She is from Brazil and we plan on moving there when I graduate. I have been to Brazil several times over the past few years and have fallen in love... Read more
Published on Dec 5 2001 by J. Gardner
4.0 out of 5 stars Cry , beloved Brazil?
Brazil has certainly captured the imagination of most people around the world mainly because of its biological diversity, the carnival in Rio, and its soccer superstars. Read more
Published on Feb. 22 2000 by Carlos R. Lugo-Ortiz
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, for the Academic or the Hedonist
This book is marvelous. It offers plenty of keen insight into Brazil, and helps explains why Brazil is such an enthralling country. Read more
Published on Dec 14 1999 by J. Wright
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction to Brazil
Having read most of the introductory books on Brazil, I find the books by Joseph Page to be an excellent basic resource and an enjoyable read to boot.
Published on June 26 1999 by Derek Footer
5.0 out of 5 stars I recomend.!
The author is not a "brazilianist", he cover all the aspects of braziliam culture, even details like brazilians japanese descend dekaseguis
Published on Oct. 2 1998 by comessu@thegrid.net
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