Brazil: A Biography

Brazil: A Biography


Shortlisted for the Jabuti Prize for the Best Brazilian Book Published Abroad

'Engrossing ... eye-opening ... an enormously refreshing treat' Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times

Since Europeans first reached Brazil in 1500 it has been an unfailing source of extraordinary fascination. More than any other part of the 'New World' it displayed both the greatest beauty and grandeur and witnessed scenes of the most terrible European ferocity. Its native people both revolutionized Europe's ideas of itself and were then subject to extermination. For white settlers Brazil's opportunities seemed endless, for imported black slaves it was a hell on earth.

Brazil: A Biography,
written by two of Brazil's leading historians and a bestseller in Brazil itself, is a remarkable attempt to convey the overwhelming diversity and challenges of this huge country - larger than the contiguous USA and still in some regions not fully mapped - from its origins to the twenty-first century. The book's major themes are the near-continuous battles to create both political institutions and social frameworks that would allow stable growth, legal norms and protection for all its citizens. Brazil's failure to achieve these except in the very short term has been tragic, but even in the 21st century it remains one of the world's great experiments - creative, harsh, unique and as compelling a story for its inhabitants as for outsiders.


  • Engrossing ... eye-opening ... an enormously refreshing treat
    Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times

About the authors

Lilia M. Schwarcz

Lilia Moritz Schwarcz is Professor of Anthropology at São Paulo University and Visiting Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures in Latin American Studies at Princeton University. Two of her books have been translated into English: The Emperor's Beard: Dom Pedro II and his Tropical Monarchy in Brazil and The Spectacle of the Races: Scientists, Institutions, and the Race Question in Brazil, 1870-1930.
Learn More

Heloisa M. Starling

Heloisa Murgel Starling is Professor at the Federal University of Minas Gerais and author of Os senhores das Gerais, Lembranças do Brasil and Uma patria paratodos.
Learn More

Sign up to the Penguin Newsletter

For the latest books, recommendations, author interviews and more