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Fernando Henrique Cardoso received a phone call in the middle of the night asking him to be the new Finance Minister of Brazil. As he put the phone down and stared into the darkness of his hotel room, he feared he'd been handed a political death sentence. The year was 1993, and he would be responsible for an economy that had had seven different currencies in the previous eight years to cope with inflation that had run at 3000 percent a year. Brazil had a habit of chewing up finance ministers with the ferocity of an Amazon piranha.
This was just one of the turns in a largely unscripted and sometimes unwanted political career. In exile during the harshest period of the junta that ruled Brazil for twenty years, Cardoso started his political life with a tentative run for the Federal Senate in 1978. Within fifteen years, and despite himself, this former sociologist was running the country.
And what a country! Brazil, it is often said, is on the edge of modernity, striding with one foot in mid-air towards the future, the other still rooted deep in a traditional past. It is a land of sophisticated music and brutal gold-digging, of the next global superpower and the last old-time coffee plantations. It is gloriously ungovernable, irrepressibly attractive, and home to the family, friends and extraordinary life of Fernando Henrique Cardoso. This is his story and his love song to his country.
Posted April 8, 2010
The book by Fernado Henrique was a wonderful read. He has a very appealing style in his writing and it absorbs the reader even during times of what can seem like boring information. Fernando Henrique did a wondderful job of telling the story behind Brazil's history and politics, especially the policies and problems that have plagued each adminsitration over their brief history. He wasn't afraid to criticize himself and offered a lot of valuable opinions about the current state and future of this gov't.
Being married to a brazilian gave me ensight to the opinions of the citizens during his time of presidency. It was a very unstable time and most brazilians were very skeptical of anohter politician making promises that would go unfilled. He managed to implement another currency change that actually worked and he insituted some much need changes in the way gov't operated. Not enough has been done to address the education problem, nor the overunning favelahs. Fernando Henrique offered an excellent opinion on the favalehs and their root causes, but he didn't do enough as president to fix them. He cannot bear that blame alone since this has plagued Brazil for decades. Unlike Lula, he took his share of the blame and didn't pass it onto other people as the problem. I have now begun reading about Dom Pedro II, the first brazilian born emporer after reading Fernado Henriques explanation of its early form of gov't.
Posted December 12, 2006
I have to admit to having been a fan of 'FHC' before this book, and having met him during the book tour and read the book as well I am only a bigger fan. The fact is that Fernando Henrique (Brazilians love to refer to their politicians, if they like them, by their first names) saved Brazil, period, in the mid-1990's. Without the Real Plan, the country would have approached collapse as did Argentina. Instead, he stabilized the economy positioning it to become the solid, centre of growth, modestly pro-American (especially in contrast to the leftist fools in Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia) anchor of stability in Latin America. The book is warm, personal, only modestly pedantic and fascinating. A fascinating book by a fascinating man. Those who know very little about contemporary Brazil would do well to start here. Parabens FHC!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 23, 2006
Apart from Cardoso¿s awesome sense of humor (it has been said this is a self-improvement book he wrote to himself), this is undoubtly an unique and amazing book on Brazil and I enjoyed every page of it. It is nevertheless a biased perspective. On chapter 10 Cardoso tells a story that took place in the early days of his first term. However he did not mention the whole story at all. This is about the group of senators who left the voting room for a cup of coffee thus supporting a fellow of theirs who used the Senate press on his personal benefit and was about to be punished. Cardoso forgot to tell, or at least left it untold, that eventually the senators got what they wanted: recently elected President Cardoso issued a pardon to the misbehaver. Cardoso also amended the Constitution to be re-elected for a second term by using non-republican means (in 1997, a lower house member confessed receiving payment to vote for the constitutional amendment of Cardoso¿s re-election). Anyway Cardoso tasted his own poison. Lula, his main opponent, appreciated the idea and decided to run for a second term.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 17, 2006
This is one of the first books I have read on Brazil and I found it to be a great synopsis of Brazil¿s modern history. The military dictatorships, failed presidencies, runaway inflation, and political personalities were particularly intriguing. And Cardoso¿s personal anecdotes along with his revealing opinions of Lula, Clinton, and Bush would make this book very interesting even for one well acquainted with the region. On the flip-side, Cardoso has a blatant biased when writing the history of his presidency though I guess this is an expected result of a memoir. According to him, pretty much everything good that has happened in Brazil was his doing and everything bad was because of others. Also, Clinton¿s pointless preface and Cardoso¿s mutual flatteries at times made me want to gag. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and learned a ton. I feel it is a great read for anyone interested in Latin America.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 6, 2006
If you really want to go deep into Brazilian culture and politics, this book is the last of the list. It the doesn't represent a clear view of any subject. Fernando H. Cardoso was the second president elected after the end of the military dictatorship. He managed to change the Brazilian Constitution to be reelected in 1998. The economy fell apart. I bet he doesn't say any of these things in his book. Some could say it is a ficcional book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 10, 2006
FHC is better than ever. The prose like style will keep you glued to the book, i finished it in 3 sittings! His accounts are extremely insightful into Brazilian society. poh, eu sou brasileiro e aprendi muito. Great source of info from Cabral to Lula. It is also very funny, well and sad too sometimes, like Brazil, i guess. It is a very good book from cover to cover. it addressed all periods of political life and FHC's world-wide culture takes the reader all over and enables him/her to get a global sense of where Brazil is and where Brazil can get to in the future. hey, eu sou brasileiro, i had to talk about the future.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 28, 2012
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