Brazil is the second-largest democracy in the Western Hemisphere and a notoriously difficult place to write about. A good and up-to-date introduction to Brazil has been sorely lacking for some years, and that is precisely what Page provides. A professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center and a veteran Brazil watcher, Page has written an affectionate portrait of this complex and exasperating continent-sized nation. His book is lively and comprehensive, "warts and all," as Oliver Cromwell is said to have instructed the artist sent to paint his likeness. Thus Page shows the growing violence as well as the celebrated festivals. He ranges widely, from the ethnic composition of the Brazilian population to politics, the media, religion, and labor unions and provides striking vignettes of personalities from labor leader and presidential candidate Lula to Pentecostal pastors and the powerful head of the TV Globo empire, Roberto Marinho. This is as good an account of contemporary Brazil as we are likely to get for some time.
Harvey Summ's fine collection of texts on Brazil, from colonial accounts to essays by leading Brazilian and foreign scholars, is a nice complement to the Page volume, bringing a series of different perspectives to bear on Brazil's history.