Synopses & Reviews
When World War II erupted in 1939, Brazil seemed a world away. Lush, remote, and underdeveloped, the country and its capital of Rio de Janeiro lured international travelers seeking a respite from the drums of the war. Rio: at the end of civilization, as we know it,” claimed Orson Welles as he set out for the city in 1942. But Brazil's bucolic reputation as a distant land of palm trees and pristine beaches masked a more complex reality one that the country's leaders were busily exploiting in a desperate gambit to secure Brazil's place in the modern world.
In Brazil, acclaimed historian Neill Lochery reveals the secret history of the country's involvement in World War II, showing how the cunning statecraft and economic opportunism of Brazil's leaders transformed it into a regional superpower over the course of the war. Brazil's natural resources and proximity to the United States made it strategically invaluable to both the Allies and the Axis, a fact that the country's dictator, Getúlio Dornelles Vargas, keenly understood. In the wars early years, Vargas and a handful of his close advisors dexterously played both sides against each other, generating enormous wealth for Brazil and fundamentally transforming its economy and infrastructure.
But Brazil's cozy neutrality was not to last. Forced to choose sides, Vargas declared war on the Axis powers and sent 25,000 troops to the European theater. This Brazilian expeditionary force arrived too late and was called home too early to secure a significant role for Brazil in the postwar order. But within Brazil, at least, Vargas had made his mark, ensuring Rios emergence as a major international city and effectively remaking Brazil as a modern nation.
A fast-paced tale of war and diplomatic intrigue, Brazil reveals a long-buried chapter of World War II and the little-known origins of one of the world's emerging economic powerhouses.
"WWII jump-started Brazil's spectacular economic growth, writes Lochery (Lisbon: War in the Shadows of the City of Light, 1939 1945) of University College London, who makes his case in this revealing political history of that nation from 1938 to 1945. Brazil in 1938 was an impoverished banana republic ruled by dictator Getúlio Vargas (1882 1954). He favored development with help from the U.S., which yearned for Brazilian bases and rubber but balked at diverting resources from its own frantic rearmament. Applying modest pressure, Vargas declared war on the Axis in August 1942 and sent a 25,000-man force to Italy in 1944, where it made a marginal contribution after being supplied, trained, and sent to battle by an unenthusiastic U.S. War's end left Brazil with more industry, improved infrastructure, a much stronger military, and an unhappy population that, except for the wealthy, had benefited little. Responding to unrest, the army deposed Vargas in October 1945, and Brazil remained mired in stagnation, hyperinflation, and repeated military coups until the 1990s. WWII was more a missed opportunity than a turning point, but Lochery delivers a vivid picture of the Byzantine mid-20th-century politics in this increasingly important yet chronically overlooked nation. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Well-focused look at the authoritarian rule of charismatic Brazilian president Getúlio Vargas.
Colorful personalities and tricky maneuvers make for a lively drama.” Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Neill Lochery is Professor of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Studies at University College London and is a world-renowned resource on the modern history and politics of Israel and the Mediterranean Middle East. He is the author of a series of critically acclaimed books, including the international bestseller Lisbon: War in the Shadows of the City of Light 19391945, as well as countless newspaper and magazine articles. He lives in London.