In This Review

Fernando Henrique Cardoso: Reinventing Democracy in Brazil
Fernando Henrique Cardoso: Reinventing Democracy in Brazil
By Ted G. Goertzel
Lynne Rienner, 1999, 220 pp.

An informative (albeit unauthorized) biography of Brazil's president, this book takes us from Cardoso's privileged youth to his leftist student days to his glittering academic career. Although Goertzel has little feel for the political context, he neatly tracks Cardoso's odyssey from Marxist intellectual to globalization enthusiast. The account superficially brushes over Cardoso's mixed success in implementing reforms but finely illustrates his intellectual agenda, which alienated the president from his former leftist colleagues. Cardoso's newfound contempt of such Brazilian intellectuals, whom he now considers "indolent," is understandable in the context of his past economic triumphs. But the recent Brazilian financial collapse, which saw old Brazilian patterns of cronyism and political inertia reassert themselves, suggests that the problem may lie deeper. Following January's crisis, Goertzel's quickly written epilogue mixes praise for Cardoso with tempered criticism, arguing that Cardoso "never thought of himself as a knight in shining armor who could solve all of the country's problems." Still, this sober evaluation is a far cry from the promise Cardoso once offered Brazil. Only the future will show whether he can revive the high hopes that the Brazilian people had invested in him when they voted him back into office last year.