In This Review

Tropical Truth: A Story of Music and Revolution in Brazil
Tropical Truth: A Story of Music and Revolution in Brazil
By Caetano Veloso
Alfred A. Knopf, 2002, 304 pp.

An important book by one of Brazil's most famous songwriters and performers. Veloso has been a major force in Brazilian popular music since the late 1960s and a spokesperson for the vibrancy and optimism of Brazilian cultural expression. He was the cofounder, along with Gilberto Gil, of Tropicalismo -- a Brazilian cultural movement that challenged the military regime as well as nationalist and Marxist orthodoxies. (Gil is now Brazil's new culture minister.) Caetano and the Tropicalistas wove together traditional Brazilian musical genres with influences from popular music in the Anglo-American world, the Caribbean, and Africa. In the process, they offended purists and bent the rules, but they succeeded in projecting Brazil to a huge international audience while retaining a passionate following at home. Part autobiography and part history, this book follows the turbulent story of Caetano and his colleagues over almost four decades. Caetano's story is well worth reading, despite its sometimes confusing byways and litany of names, because it provides a fascinating window into a Brazil that captivates more people internationally than any Brazilian politician could ever hope to reach. And it is a tribute to the resilience and generosity of the Brazilian counterculture, whose moment has finally arrived.