Kenneth Maxwell , the founder of the Brazil Studies Program at 
Harvard’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, is currently 
a weekly columnist for the Brazilian newspaper Folha de São Paulo.
 (August 2015)


Brazil: The Corruption of Progress

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin before the final match of the FIFA World Cup, Rio de Janeiro, July 2014
Dilma Rousseff of the Workers’ Party (PT) was narrowly reelected president of Brazil in the second round of the presidential election on October 26 last year. She won with 51.6 percent of the votes. Aécio Neves, her opponent from the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB), received 48.4 percent of the …

Brazil: Lula’s Prospects

I arrived back in the US from Brazil on election day, Sunday, October 27, when 115 million voters peacefully went to the polls, pressed the keys on their compact electronic voting machines, and by a huge margin elected a former factory worker, Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, universally known as …

The Dirty War

A Lexicon of Terror: Argentina and the Legacies of Torture

by Marguerite Feitlowitz
A Lexicon of Terror is a searing account of the Argentine Dirty War which claimed over 30,000 lives between 1976 and 1983. The author, who teaches writing and literary translation at Harvard, spent six years of harrowing research among those who survived unspeakable mental and physical torment in the military …

Pirate Democracy

Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Pirates

by David Cordingly
The first books about pirates appeared surprisingly soon after the piracy they described. The most successful of all the early pirates, Henry Morgan, who sacked the Spanish colonial city of Panama in 1671, was portrayed as a monster of depravity and cruelty in Alexander Exquemelin’s best-selling Buccaneers of America, first …

The Road to Kisses

The True History of Chocolate

by Sophie D. Coe and Michael D. Coe
In 1544 Dominican friars took a delegation of Maya nobles to visit Prince Philip of Spain. Among the presents they brought to his court, together with various kinds of chilies, beans, sarsparilla, maize, liquidambar (a plant of the witch hazel family), and 2000 quetzal feathers, their most precious offering, were …

¡Adiós Columbus!

The Buried Mirror: Reflections on Spain and the New World

by Carlos Fuentes

New Worlds, Ancient Texts: The Power of Tradition and the Shock of Discovery

by Anthony Grafton, with April Shelford and Nancy Siraisi
Columbus was mugged on the way to his own party. The American quincentennial year drew to a close with barely a mention of the Admiral of the Ocean Sea and would-be “Viceroy of India.” Even the advertising agencies found him too hot a potato (the potato of course being one …