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The War of the End of the World [Hardcover]

Mario Vargas Llosa , H. R. Lane
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

13 May 1985
The War of the End of the World is one of the great modern historical novels. Inspired by a real episode in Brazilian history, Mario Vargas Llosa tells the story of an apocalyptic movement, led by a mysterious prophet, in which prostitutes, beggars and bandits establish Canudos, a new republic, a libertarian paradise.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 550 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; First UK Edition. edition (13 May 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 057113114X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571131143
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 13.5 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 848,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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'Remarkable . . . thrilling to read.' -- Sunday Times

'Scarcely one of Vargas Llosa's pages fails to grab and fascinate . . . Above all Vargas Llosa captures the confusion of battle and the dizzy incomprehension of those involved.' --Sunday Telegraph

'A bold work of force and power, a tragic masterpiece with something of the sweep and freedom of the great novels of the nineteenth century.' --The Listener

'Powerful and haunting . . . Vargas Llosa's work is of such scope, his handling of the big questions so confident and intellectually exciting, that one hesitates to fault him.' --New York Times --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

A classic Vargas Llosa novel, based on real events in Brazilian history. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a 5 star historical novel 18 Oct 2006
By Teapot
Although I am by nature skeptical of historical novels, I really enjoyed The War of the End of the World (La Guerra Del Fin Del Mundo). Based on the actual events of the Battle of Canudos at the turn of the 19th Century in Brazil, Vargas Llosa reveals his story-telling genius by constructing wonderful and chilling personal histories of the main characters, using a backbone of historical fact. This is one of the rare historical novels, where the fiction is actually an aid to understanding the facts. In this book, Vargas Llosa guides you through the socio-economic landscape of the newly-founded Republic of Brazil, revealing the divisions and tensions that existed and continue to this day to divide Brazil. An absolute masterpiece.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping historical novel 16 Mar 2007
I decided to read this novel as I had recently visited Brazil and was interested to learn something of the country's history, though I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy ploughing through a thick volume, based on fact but a novel.

The events,political machinations and the vagaries of human nature contained in this epic account of a utopia formed by the disposessed of the north of Brazil, around a charismatic, enigmatic preacher, explain much of Brazil's (and indeed the world's) present day situation. It uplifts the spirit with optimism until the final chapters when it becomes clear that as usual the good guys are not going to win. I was gripped from the start by the characters, some of whom touched my heart and live in my imagination still.

Whether or not you are interested in Brazil, or history, if you care about the human condition and the fate of the downtrodden and outcasts of society then you will be as enthralled by this book as I was.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A deep, dark labyrinth of a novel 7 May 2011
By Doug
This is an astonishing book, a kaleidoscopic vision of how idealism allows even the most terrible atrocities to become permitted and normalized. The book is a novelization of the true story of Canudos, a utopian settlement made up of the broken, wounded and dispossessed in late 19th Century Brazil, set up by the visionary Councillor. The story unfolds in a series of linked personal stories, as Canudos is repeatedly assailed by armies of the territory of Bahia and the Republic of Brazil. The reader's sympathies are steered towards the occupants of Canudos, but beware - this is not a simple matter of 'good guys' and 'bad guys'. The visionaries of Canudos wreak terrible vengeance on their enemies, mutilating corpses, burning haciendas and blighting lives, while even the most bloodthirsty of professional soldiers is shown to have humanity and compassion. Both sides of the escalating conflict are totally convinced of their own 'rightness' and the evil of their opponents. This morally complex book works on many levels, and contains deep lessons for our own times, as well as opening a window into a terrible episode in South American history. Allow yourself to be drawn into this book, and it will haunt you for a long time.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A great war novel 11 July 2014
This huge novel, set in north eastern Brazil at the end of the nineteenth century, is a detailed and chilling study of a country in the throws of civil-war. With a Tolstoyan sweep, it demonstrates what happens to humanity when politics is mixed with messianic religion, when idealism allied to ruthless power becomes toxic. Religion, power and death are so inextricably entwined in this story it becomes a vision of hell on earth. This book is a novelisation of history, but imagined with such amazing visual acuity, with such an Olympian view of human depredations, with such a deep grasp of the realities of siege warfare, it feels as if the author was a witness to all he describes. (One feels the same about 'War and Peace').

It begins with the Counselor, a self-styled holy man, who has a vision of a religious community at odds with the prevailing Republic. He gathers around him a motley collection of outcasts and former criminals and inspires them with religious fervour. They cast aside their former habits and follow him to the town of Canudos, where he creates a community based upon Christianity and liberty. People flock to join it. The authorities see this as a threat to their rule and send a number of ill-fated expeditions to destroy it, each of which we follow in detail. The viewpoint shifts, as in a film (the novel began life as a film script) from one set of key characters to another, on both sides, either on the battlefield for the most part, on in the antechambers to it. There are no subplots, no love-interest (except a tussle over one woman, Jurema), few scenes that take you away from the field of conflict: the narrative is concentrated and relentless.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great historical novel 2 Jun 2014
'The man was so tall and thin he seemed to be always in profile. He was dark-skinned and raw-boned, and his eyes burned with perpetual fire.' Thus Vargas Llosa introduces Antonio the Counselor, the holy man who ignites a religious revival and shakes the foundations of the Brazilian republic.

This is one of the finest novels of the last 40 years, a passionate and humane reimagining of the mystical movement that swept Brazil's desolate northeastern region in the 1890s. Vargas Llosa has immense empathy for the poor peasants who followed their messiah into the wilderness, and describes brilliantly the badlands of thorn forests and desert through which they and their pursuers have to travel. The Counselor's followers set up a utopian, communal society in the remote township of Canudos, and the Brazilian army sees this a mortal threat to the state. The soldiers set out to suppress this 'rebellion' with extreme savagery, and the stage is set for an epic and tragic showdown.

This novel and The Feast of the Goat, along with Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter and Conversation in the Cathedral, explain why Vargas Llosa was awarded the Nobel Prize.
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