Larry Rohter was Rio de Janeiro Bureau Chief for The New York Times from 1997 to 2007. He is the author of three books about Brazil, most recently a biography of the explorer and statesman Candido Rondon. (April 2020)

IN THE REVIEW

Brazil’s Dead End

Former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva with supporters on the day he agreed to start a prison sentence for corruption, São Paulo, April 2018; from Petra Costa’s The Edge of Democracy

Brazil Apart: 1964–2019

by Perry Anderson

The Edge of Democracy

a documentary film by Petra Costa
For Brazilians, January 1, 2003, was one of those rare moments in history when everything seems possible. It was Inauguration Day, and not only was power being transferred from one democratically elected civilian president to another for the first time in more than forty years, but the man donning the …

Brazil’s Brutal Messiah

Jair Bolsonaro

Brazil: A Biography

by Lilia M. Schwarcz and Heloisa M. Starling, translated from the Portuguese
If we were to think of Brazil as a person rather than a country, as Lilia Schwarcz and Heloisa Starling encourage us to do in their sweeping new history Brazil: A Biography, it would be someone who, at the moment, seems schizophrenic. Consider, for example, the October 28 run-off election …

Viva Tropicália!

Hélio Oiticica: Tropicália, 1966–1967. The installation, on view at the Whitney, includes plants, sand, birds, and a poem by Roberta Camila Salgado inscribed on brick, tile, and wood.

Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium

an exhibition at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, October 1, 2016–January 2, 2017; the Art Institute of Chicago, February 19–May 7, 2017; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City, July 14–October 1, 2017
Amid political turmoil and then systematic repression, Brazil in the 1960s was a nation seething with creativity. Antônio Carlos Jobim and João Gilberto took bossa nova to a global audience. Glauber Rocha, Ruy Guerra, and other directors and screenwriters associated with the Cinema Novo movement won awards at Cannes and …

Rio: The War of the Favelas

Young men at the top of the Vidigal favela, Rio de Janeiro, 2010

Nemesis: One Man and the Battle for Rio

by Misha Glenny
Misha Glenny’s Nemesis: One Man and the Battle for Rio aims to give a sense of what life is like in those favelas, which, though they exist on the margins of every Brazilian metropolis, are especially visible and important in Rio, where they number more than one thousand and overlook Ipanema, Copacabana, and other elegant neighborhoods. The book’s arrival is timely.