In 2011, after six years of robust growth accompanied by dramatic advances in social policy, Brazil’s economy began to sputter, and it remains stagnant today. Popular protests against corruption, government waste, and dismal public services engulfed the country in 2013. And last year, a former official of the national oil company, Petrobras, revealed a massive bribery scheme that funneled money from the company to the ruling coalition of President Dilma Rousseff. Yet despite this economic turmoil and political scandal, Brazilians recently reelected Rousseff to a second term. Reid’s book will help readers grasp the confounding cycles of Brazilian politics. In past writings, Reid, a columnist and writer-at-large on Latin American issues for The Economist, might have been too bullish on Brazil’s prospects. But this compelling account of the country’s history, stretching back to the arrival of the Portuguese in 1500, represents the most thoughtful and balanced recent assessment of Brazil’s enormous triumphs and crushing failures, and of what lies ahead for Latin America’s most populous country and the world’s seventh-largest economy.
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