Brazil: A Country Study (Area Handbook Brazil: A Country Study)
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Press: Claitor's Pub Division; 5th edition (January 1, 1998)
Author Name:Hudson, Rex A.
Edited by Rex A.
Examines the dominant historical, social, environmental, economic, governmental, political, and national security aspects of contemporary Brazil.
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- This 5th Edition is greatly updated since the 4th Edition, and should be used in place of earlier editions. It is an admirable source of information on Brazil's history, social structure and institutions, the economy, the government, the military, and on Brazil's efforts in science and technology. It cannot substitute for more specialized works, but I use it as my first stop when looking for information on anything about Brazil that I have no personal knowledge of and no detailed reference works on. It should be the first book on Brazil acquired by anyone with any serious interest in any topic concerning Brazil.This being said, I do have some criticisms; the book is not perfect. Most important, although some sections have been completely rewritten since the 4th Edition, others have not, and there is no indication of which ones have and which ones haven't. This can seriously mislead a reader who assumes that a specific item of information is accurate as of the 5th Edition publication date of 1998,if it happens to be an obsolete item from ten or fifteen years earlier. As an example, in the discussion of Brazil's exports, there isn't a hint that by the time of publication of the 5th Edition, the largest single export of Brazil was commercial passenger airliners produced by EMBRAER, which has become one of the world's four largest manufacturers of passenger airliners, below Airbus and Boeing, but competing nose-to-nose with Bombardier, and encroaching on the low end of Boeing's market so severely that Boeing recently discontinued the 717 because it can't compete effectively against the EMB-170 and EMB-190 of EMBRAER. This striking omission is due entirely to the fact that the section on exports was not updated for the 5th Edition. I could cite various other such examples, but this one will suffice to indicate the way in which a reader might be misled.A less serious but still significant problem is that the bibliographies at the end of each chapter refer almost exclusively to works in English. To be sure, most casual readers about Brazil will not know enough Portuguese to tackle serious publications in Portuguese, but many serious readers will be comfortable reading Portuguese, and most of the most important source works were written in Portuguese by Brazilians and have not yet been translated into English (although some have). The chapter authors themselves have clearly drawn heavily on documents in Portuguese, and the editors should have done readers the courtesy to cite in the bibliographies the most important of these.Finally, to my great surprise, the book does not seem to have been reviewed by knowledgeable reviewers, although it did get editorial review. This omission is undoubtedly responsible for many of the minor errors and omissions that mar the work; I recommend that a reader who needs to depend on any specific statement of fact in this book check it agains other sources. Some of the errors are just hilarious; for example, on page 94 I find the assertion that the Ucayali river, a Peruvian tributary of the Amazon, is 6,762 kilometers long. A moment's thought reveals the implausibility of Peru, whose longest dimension is just over 2000 kilometers, containg a river 6,762 kilometers long. The Ucayali is indeed a large and important river, but its actual length is slightly less than 1500 kilometers. Unfortunately, many of the other minor errors are less obvious, unless one has lived in Brazil, has friends there, and keeps up with events and changes in the country.Despite these caveats, though, the book is first rate overall, and an excellent starting point for learning.
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