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Autos and Progress: The Brazilian Search for Modernity Americas South America Brazil Joel Wolfe Oxford University Press USA


28th May 2013 History Books 0 Comments

“Convincingly demonstrates an extraordinary range of cultural, social, political, and economic influences that increasing ‘automobility’ had on Brazilian society.” –American Historical Review

“Autos and Progress casts new light on an old subject–Brazil’s struggle to become a modern nation. Joel Wolfe wonderfully blends the history of technology, business, consumer culture, and politics to show how the automobile and trucks played a central role in the integration and creation of the Brazilian nation. His book is a major contribution to Brazilian and Latin American history.”–Marshall C. Eakin, Vanderbilt University

“Autos and Progress provides an important new way to understand the Brazilian obsession with modernity. Joel Wolfe shows how Brazilians linked technology and consumerism by investigating a wide range of topics relating to automobilism, including the relationship between Formula 1 racing and nation-building and the connection between auto workers and democracy. Autos and Progress teaches us that motorized vehicles were more than tools for creating a modern state; they were important cultural symbols of twentieth century Brazilian national identity.”–Jeffrey Lesser, Emory University

Joel Wolfe is Associate Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and the author of Working Women, Working Men: So Paulo and the Rise of Brazil’s Industrial Working Class, 1900-1955.

Autos and Progress reinterprets twentieth-century Brazilian history through automobiles, using them as a window for understanding the nation’s struggle for modernity in the face of its massive geographical size, weak central government, and dependence on agricultural exports. Among the topics Wolfe touches upon are the first sports cars and elite consumerism; intellectuals’ embrace of cars as the key for transformation and unification of Brazil; Henry Ford’s building of a company town in the Brazilian jungle; the creation of a transportation infrastructure; democratization and consumer culture; auto workers and their creation of a national political party; and the economic and environmental impact of autos on Brazil. This focus on Brazilians’ fascination with automobiles and their reliance on auto production and consumption as keys to their economic and social transformation, explains how Brazil–which enshrined its belief in science and technology in its national slogan of Order and Progress–has differentiated itself from other Latin American nations. Autos and Progress engages key issues in Brazil around the meaning and role of race in society and also addresses several classic debates in Brazilian studies about the nature of Brazil’s great size and diversity and how they shaped state-making.

“Convincingly demonstrates an extraordinary range of cultural, social, political, and economic influences that increasing ‘automobility’ had on Brazilian society.” –American Historical Review

“Autos and Progress casts new light on an old subject–Brazil’s struggle to become a modern nation. Joel Wolfe wonderfully blends the history of technology, business, consumer culture, and politics to show how the automobile and trucks played a central role in the integration and creation of the Brazilian nation. His book is a major contribution to Brazilian and Latin American history.”–Marshall C. Eakin, Vanderbilt University

“Autos and Progress provides an important new way to understand the Brazilian obsession with modernity. Joel Wolfe shows how Brazilians linked technology and consumerism by investigating a wide range of topics relating to automobilism, including the relationship between Formula 1 racing and nation-building and the connection between auto workers and democracy. Autos and Progress teaches us that motorized vehicles were more than tools for creating a modern state; they were important cultural symbols of twentieth century Brazilian national identity.”–Jeffrey Lesser, Emory University

Autos and Progress: The Brazilian Search for Modernity

The Massacre at El Mozote

Based in large part on his extensive account published in the December 6, 1993, issue of the New Yorker , National Magazine Award winner Danner’s engrossing study reconstructs events that took place some dozen years before. In December 1981, over 750 men, women and children were killed in El Mozote, El Salvador, and the surrounding hamlets. Although at the time it was covered on the front pages of both the New York Times and the Washington Post , the reports were not enough to derail Ronald Reagan’s push to prove that the El Salvadoran government was “making a concerted and significant effort to comply with internationally recognized human rights.” Why the government chose to ignore stories in the nation’s two leading newspapers is one part of Danner’s sad, well-researched book. The other is why El Mozote was attacked at all. Populated by evangelical Christians who, unlike Catholic neighbors fed on liberation theology, did not abet the rebel FMLN, the people of El Mozote believed they would be spared when the army decided to wipe out insurgents and their supporters. After several days of brutal rapes and murders, a handful of people managed to escape to the rebels, setting in motion press reports and the under-investigated, coyly couched American embassy reply that allowed the U.S. to continue its massive subsidies. Danner has disinterred an event that is an equal indictment of Salvadoran brutality and American blindness.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

In December 1981 soldiers of the Salvadoran Army’s select, American-trained Atlacatl Battalion entered the village of El Mozote, where they murdered hundreds of men, women, and children, often by decapitation. Although reports of the massacre — and photographs of its victims — appeared in the United States, the Reagan administration quickly dismissed them as propaganda. In the end, El Mozote was forgotten. The war in El Salvador continued, with American funding.

When Mark Danner’s reconstruction of these events first appeared in The New Yorker, it sent shock waves through the news media and the American foreign-policy establishment. Now Danner has expanded his report into a brilliant book, adding new material as well as the actual sources. He has produced a masterpiece of scrupulous investigative journalism that is also a testament to the forgotten victims of a neglected theater of the cold war.

The Massacre at El Mozote










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