As a way of understanding Brazil during the current soccer World Cup games, Roger Cohen of the International New York Times recommended reading Peter Robb’s 2004 book A Death in Brazil.
I haven’t paid much attention to the soccer, other than to get excited on game days and cheer along with everyone else. But this book gripped my attention for nearly a week.
It is sweeping, going back and forth from Brazil’s earliest days to now, from the general and political and social to the personal. We see so many classic patterns – that the poor who make persistent efforts to control and improve their own lives will be hounded to death, as happened repeatedly in Brazil. That even in a totally mixed up country, color-wise, being dark-skinned works against almost everyone. That the coasts are cool, inland no so much. And perhaps that Europeans / white guys bring corruption, and in Brazil’s case, massive corruption. With the complicity of the church. The media are complicit, as are politicians.
It is very depressing in many ways. And somehow I doubt that an update from 2004 to 2014 will help much. It is the people who will have to bring change.
Luckily, I believe that people around the world are doing just that.