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on 17 September 2005
Peter Robb's book is a masterpiece - nothing I have read in recent years comes as close to giving the reader a deep and meaningful insight into this fascinating country. From corruption to carnival, from history to food, Robb is the master of his topic and you move effortlessly through a book that is always a compelling read. You put 'A Death in Brazil' down at the end with that sense of regret you always get with a book that is a truly wonderful read. I was entertained and informed at the same time, and didn't want it to end. If you want a better understanding of Brazil - its terrible problems and its wonderful people and culture - simply don't hesitate to buy this book. Should the author chance to read this - I would just like to say thank you for a terrific piece of work.
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on 23 December 2009
This is an exceptionally good book: entertaining, informative and fascinating. It splits into three revolving strands. 1) The author's personal experience in Brazil (which sometimes reads like a thriller) including insights on culture, food and language, 2) the history of Brazil from it's colonisation by the Portuguese (which sometimes reads like a thriller) including views on why Brazil is so culturally different from the Spanish colonies, and indeed North America and 3) the recent history of Brazil (which is a thriller) from the military dictatorship until today's president Lula with amazing background on where Collor and Lula came from and what their entourage was all about. I wish there was a book like this on every country I ever visit.
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on 18 November 2013
I guess you love Peter Robb's approach or you don't. I love it. As in 'Street Fight in Naples' he flips backwards and forwards between personal reminiscences of his time hanging out in Recife, rather good and concise explanations of recent Brazilian political events, well-told historical episodes and reviews of some important Brazilian literature. Robb is the sort of travel guide who will buy you a cachaca in a seedy dive, treat you to lobster, discuss books in an intelligent way and take you to places that explain things. He is costing me money as I have ordered three more books on his recommendation. I recently read FH Cardoso's 'Accidental President of Brazil' and he covers some of the same ground. Obviously FHC is the insider but I think Robb's account stands up very well against the ex-President's book, and Robb's is a more interesting read.
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on 22 January 2006
Peter Robb writes a tight book which manages to be expressive, entertaining and concise. He doesn't waste a word, and manages to keep you enthralled in the workings of a country which has yet to find a full expression of it's culture.
Though Robb shows his approval for Lulu, Brazil's current President, without qualifying or really examining if he has changed Brazil for the better. You can only admire his ability to present the histories, both old and new, of Brazil. Robb looks to try to make sense of the Brazil's present 'progress' with what has happened in it's colourful, but tragic past.
I was entranced by his descriptions of the old 'Palmares' settlement and the destruction of 'Canudos'. Rarely will you find an author that knows his subject so well and is able to get across so much in such an entertaining way. I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone.
My only negative note is that he does not include any photographs of Brazil, the main political protagonists or places of interest which would have made it easier for me to get a proper understanding of the world he talks of.
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on 13 April 2013
Such an accessible and fascinating insight into one of the worlds most contradictory and complicated countries. The myth-busting element i especially loved. A really gripping historical narrative of a fiercely fought battle for Presidency. Buy it - its great.
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on 14 November 2010
An unexpectedly good book. He is a very good author. The subject matter was very interesting as well.
Makes English politics look a bit dull. It perhaps rambled a bit at the start but overall it was very enjoyable.
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on 13 July 2011
This book is excellent background for any traveller who wants to understand the Brazilians. It covers the history, politics, culture and social conditions from the first Portuguese settlers up to the 21st century. Although mainly focused on the north east of the country the observations have wider relevance. The book is well written from the perspective of a visitor who, based in his local bar, investigates sociological issues that interest him.
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on 26 April 2009
A thoroughly well written and researched book which helps to outline how and why Brazil became the country it is today. Outlining the massive corruption of PC Farias under the regime of Fernando Collor de mella, the history of the slaves and and their community at Palmares and its inevitable destruction as well as the Canudos story. All this alongside a very cultured and evocative view of the Brazilian psyche, literary and televisual culture and food - makes this an involving read.

Some subjects I feel could have been covered in more depth but the author refers you to his sources easily and with enthusiasm. If you enjoy reading travelouges, history and/or exposés on nasty regimes of the past then this book is highly reccomended. Then again, even if you don't, give it a try.
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on 20 July 2009
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Brazil and its culture. I am Brazilian and have learnt a lot about my homeland and its history through it. Robb's writing style is engaging, descriptive and educational without being 'teachery'. Excellent read.
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on 8 March 2014
This is a genius book. Food, art, music and political history all combine in a truly masterful travel book on Brazil.
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