Brazil Fortunes of War

ISBN: 9780465039982
Published: 2014
Publisher: Basic Books
Version: Hardback

When World War II erupted in 1939, Brazil seemed a world away. Lush, remote, and underdeveloped, the country and its capital of Rio lured international travelers seeking a respite from the din of the war. “Rio: at the end of civilization, as we know it,” claimed Orson Welles as he set out for the city in 1942. But Brazil’s bucolic reputation as a distant land of palm trees and pristine beaches masked a more complex reality—one that the country’s leaders busily exploited in a desperate gambit to secure Brazil’s place in the modern world.

In Brazil, acclaimed historian Neill Lochery reveals the secret history of the country’s involvement in World War II, showing how the cunning statecraft and economic opportunism of Brazil’s leaders transformed it into a regional superpower over the course of the war. Brazil’s natural resources and proximity to the United States made it strategically invaluable to both the Allies and the Axis, a fact that the country’s dictator, Getúlio Dornelles Vargas, keenly understood. In the war’s early years, Vargas and a handful of his close advisors dexterously played both sides against each other, generating enormous wealth for Brazil and fundamentally transforming its economy and infrastructure.

But Brazil’s cozy neutrality was not to last. Forced to choose sides, Vargas declared war on the Axis powers and sent 25,000 troops to the European theater. This Brazilian expeditionary force arrived too late—and was called home too early—to secure a significant role for Brazil in the postwar order.  But within Brazil, at least, Vargas had made his mark, ensuring Rio’s emergence as a major international city and effectively remaking Brazil as a modern nation.

A fast-paced tale of war and diplomatic intrigue, Brazil reveals a long-buried chapter of World War II and the little-known origins of one of the world’s most dynamic powers.

Brazil is published by Basic Books, New York, in July 2014.


More detail is available on a dedicated page on this website. Go to Brazil: Fortunes of War, World War II and the Making of Modern Brazil >>



Press Acclaim

"A revealing political history...Lochery delivers a vivid picture of the Byzantine mid 20th-century politics of this increasingly important yet chronically overlooked nation."  
Publishers Weekly - Pre-Publication Review (March 2014)

"Well-focused….Colorful personalities and tricky maneuvers make for a lively drama." 
Kirkus Review - Pre-Publication Review (May 2014)


"[Lochery] has the merit of articulating a narrative of literary quality and fast pace, combining convincing reconstruction of the scenes of diplomatic intrigue and little remembered episodes....the outside view of Neill Lochery helps us understand [Brazil] more clearly."
Luciano Trigo, O Globo (Brazil)

"A well-written account of Brazil’s experience of World War II... Lochery gets mid-20th century Brazil, in all its contradictions and ambivalences, and also Vargas. Lochery deftly portrays both major and minor characters in his story. The result is a book that is both good history - political, diplomatic and military - and a good read."
Peter Winn, Latin American history at Tufts University

"Lochery writes with an eye for detail, putting readers in the Copacabana and on the beaches of Rio as well as the smoke-filled conferences were deals where made."
Express Milwaukee (US)


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