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Brazil: Five Centuries of Change
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Brazil: Five Centuries of Change

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  133 ratings  ·  19 reviews
With a land mass larger than the continental United States, a unique culture that is part European, African, and indigenous, and the world's ninth largest economy, Brazil is one of the most important--yet one of the least understood--nations in the world.
Thomas Skidmore, a preeminent authority on Brazil, vividly traces the 500 years of Brazil's development. Its epic story
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published March 25th 1999 by Oxford University Press, USA
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3.59  · 
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 ·  133 ratings  ·  19 reviews

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Britta Stumpp
Feb 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a really fascinating read. I have become more and more intrigued by Brazil with each passing day due to my love for Brazilian dance and spiritual traditions. The history of Brazil is equally intriguing. Like for instance, I never knew Brazil was an Empire! Or that the entire Portuguese court, along with some 50 thousand couriers, military, etc. moved to Rio during the Napoleonic Wars! No other European monarch ever even visited their colonies in the New World, let alone set up their ent ...more
Apr 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I'd recommend this book as the starting point for any English-speaking student or lay person interested in Brazilian history since 'discovery' by the Portuguese in 1500.
E. Bradford Burn's more-dense monograph 'A History of Brazil' is often touted as the standard text on the subject. However, though I'd certainly encourage any student of Brazil to read Burn's work, - alongside Boris Faust's abridged English-language monograph - I'd be inclined to favour this more-concise work by Skidmore. (My ma
Oct 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am more interested in European colonial history and the book reviews that in a lot of detail. It's interesting that Brazil actually embarked on a plan to whiten their country via European immigration. This was at the time when scientific racism was on the rise in the United States and Brazilians looked at the strong North Atlantic nations and thought this was the way to industrialization and economic prosperity.
Jay Wright
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is an overview of Brazil and for its 236 pages gives you a general overview of the history and direction of Brazil. While not a detailed work, I was not seeking a detailed treatise. The book was perfect for my needs and I have a little more background of a country, I knew little about.
Mar 29, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
So boring. I was required to read it but seriously it was terrible there needed to be more subsections and more chapters
Dani Arribas-bel
I picked up this book one week before visiting the country to get a bit of background on a then completely unknown part of the World. The book does a decent job at that. Starting with the Portuguese gives a long term perspective that I certainly enjoyed and gives the author the chance to dig into the the deep reasons of some of the main characteristics of today's Brazil. The are two main drawbacks I found: first, the book stops in 1999 (there's an updated version up to 2007 with the Lula rule, b ...more
Aug 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To understand the Brazil of today, one needs to know and comprehend the Brazil of yesterday. In this short work, Skidmore goes through the centuries painting a coherent picture of what Brazil's history has consisted in, focusing in it's most important events. While mostly a book about political and economical history, each chapter consistently includes a small section on the societal evolution through the referred period of time. Though concise, Skidmore's "Brazil" is an extremely serious and th ...more
Oct 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's not clear to me how on earth one distills this much history about this much nation into 250 pages, but Prof. Skidmore's made a very nice run on it. He bounds through the first 3 centuries rather rapidly, but has a very nice knack for telling traditional history. The majority of the book is on the 200 years since independence, and this is well done -- easy enough to read on the plane (e.g. en route to Sao Paulo) and yet still be able to remember enough to make sense of the city and the natio ...more
Nov 01, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first read this book when I was preparing to move to the northeast of Brazil back in A.D. 2000.

After seven years of experiencing life in Brazil, I am finding it profitable to re-read. In a very readable manner, the book outlines the economic, social, and political changes over the last five centuries that have contributed to making Brazil what it is today.

I would say that if you have or will have any close contact with Brazil or Brazilians, this book (or one like it) is a must-read.

Dec 02, 2010 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I remember meeting a Brazilian at the World Social Forum in India, who spoke with such hope and passion about Lula their leader, a working class man, who was determined to redistribute land to the poor. It sounded amazing and honorable to do this on such a large scale. The second publication came out 2010, and includes a current update on what Lula has been doing in his second term. good and easy read!
Feb 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The organization is super problematic: we only learn that women have had the vote in Brazil since the 1930s as the main narrative approaches 1990, for instance. In general the history is quite superficial and just way too short. Also way too political, with little enough space devoted to cultural and regional history. In fact I don't even know why I'm giving it 4 stars. Probs just because the author taught at Brown.
Mikael Glamheden
It gives a good overview of the entire history of Brazil from the arrival of the Portuguese to the end of the 20th century. It is a good read for anyone interested in learning more of why Brazil is as it is today. Enjoyed the book, but I thought that the last author focused a bit too much on economics for my taste during the last part of the book.
Feb 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very well written book on the history of Brazil. The focus was on the last century of Brazilian History, which was helpful to understand current conditions in Brazil. I was impressed by the further resources at the end of the book for a more detailed look at particular parts of the history of this vast country.
Mar 10, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Brief overview of the history of Brazil. Too brief on the first 200 years (prior to Independence). Decent job on Independence and the role of the monarchy in the early years, though it did not cover its overthrow in as much detail.
Nov 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Helpful reading for understanding where Brazil has come from and where it's heading. It is perhaps overly focused on the country's financial upheavals and short on information about the what has happened with the environment and the indigenous populations.
Feb 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great book as I prepare for a vacation to Brazil
Jimmy Tarlau
A good and short survey history of Brazil that was a good companion for our recent trip there. It makes me want to read more about the country
Mar 31, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: academic-history
good social and economic history, if much more focused on the last 80 years than the early history, which was what I was interested in.
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