Synopses & Reviews
Fernando Henrique Cardoso received a phone call in the middle of the night asking him to be the new Finance Minister of Brazil. As he put the phone down and stared into the darkness of his hotel room, he feared he'd been handed a political death sentence. The year was 1993, and he would be responsible for an economy that had had seven different currencies in the previous eight years to cope with inflation that had run at 3000 percent a year. Brazil had a habit of chewing up finance ministers with the ferocity of an Amazon piranha.
This was just one of the turns in a largely unscripted and sometimes unwanted political career. In exile during the harshest period of the junta that ruled Brazil for twenty years, Cardoso started his political life with a tentative run for the Federal Senate in 1978. Within fifteen years, and despite himself, this former sociologist was running the country.
And what a country! Brazil, it is often said, is on the edge of modernity, striding with one foot in mid-air towards the future, the other still rooted deep in a traditional past. It is a land of sophisticated music and brutal gold-digging, of the next global superpower and the last old-time coffee plantations. It is gloriously ungovernable, irrepressibly attractive, and home to the family, friends and extraordinary life of Fernando Henrique Cardoso. This is his story and his love song to his country.
"Cardoso, who served as Brazil's Finance Minister in the early 1990's and then president from 1995 to 2002, shows in his first-rate memoir how far his country has traveled in the 125 years since Emperor Dom Pedro. Cardoso appears, by virtue of being a third-generation politician raised in an upper-middle-class household, to have been minted for the presidency. Yet, as he describes with the panache of a seasoned history writer, privilege did not obscure his vision of Brazil's injustice and poverty: he was born into a time of upheaval and worker revolts and lived through his first coup at age six, a foreshadowing of the tumult he would witness throughout his adult life. This philosopher-turned-politician gives a thorough history of 20th century Brazil, a country blessed with resources but racked by instability and yearning for democratic reform. Not long after his father's death, Cardoso made Brazil's future his mission, as a senator, as finance minister and finally as president where he took on pharmaceutical companies over AIDS treatment. And while Cardoso's family history would seem to have predisposed him to the role of public man, his story is that of a maverick whose curious mind and love for his country helped bring Brazil into the 21st Century as a formidable economic and political power." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
What is it like to govern one of the world's most notoriously ungovernable, most vibrant countries? Brazil's former president offers a candid, wry, illuminating view.
About the Author
Fernando Henrique Cardoso was President of the Federative Republic of Brazil for two consecutive terms, from January 1995 to December 2002. Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1931, he is married, with three children, and lives in São Paulo.