In This Review
Charting a New Course: The Politics of Globalization and Social Transformation
Rowman & Littlefield, 2001, 352 pp.
Appearances aside, this book is not a panegyric but a useful account of the remarkable academic and political career of Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Font has brought together key documents covering almost 30 years, beginning with Cardoso's academic work, then his political statements as a senator and government minister, and finally his presidential speeches. Early texts cover slavery and race, dependency and economic development in Latin America and beyond, authoritarianism, and the process of democratization. Later political texts include Cardoso's telling criticism of Brazil's 1998 constitution, which he helped draft but later viewed as deeply flawed: the constitution created a president who "rises like a Caesar, a national savior," he wrote, but one who also lacks a stable majority in congress. Cardoso concludes by quoting the writer Octavio Paz, who described politics not as a science but rather "a wager against the unpredictable." This fusion of a strong belief in scientifically based academic analysis with political malleability is one of the most fascinating aspects of Cardoso's performance as president.
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