Playwright, journalist, and spectacularly successful governor, Carlos Lacerda was Brazil's foremost orator in the 20th century and its most controversial politician. He might have become president in the 1960s had not the military taken over. In the words of eminent historian José Honório Rodrigues, "No one person influenced the Brazilian historical process as much as Carlos Lacerda from 1945 to 1968."
In this volume, the first of a two-volume biography, Professor Dulles paints a portrait of a rebellious youth, who had the willfulness of his prominent father and who crusaded for Communism before becoming its most outspoken foe. Recalling Lacerda's rallying cry, "Brazil must be shaken up," Dulles traces the career of the journalist whose unsparing attacks on the men in power led authorities to imprison him and employ thugs who pummeled him physically. The story covers events in which Lacerda helped alter Brazil, such as the redemocratization in 1945 and his revelation of scandals in high places in the early 1950s. An unsuccessful attempt by government men to murder him in 1954 led to the suicide of President Getulio Vargas in 1954.
Lacerda's spirited oratory helped him become Brazil's most popular congressman, but it scared the rulers of Brazil and they prohibited the broadcast of his speeches after he returned from exile in 1956. Their effort to deprive him of his mandate stirred the entire nation and culminated in one of the most dramatic sessions ever held in the Chamber of Deputies.
Dulles, who knew Lacerda well and had access to his papers, sheds light on Lacerda the man, ardent in courtship and in all his undertakings, intellectually restless, and scornful of routine and mediocrity. Lacerda had a vitriolic pen that made bitter enemies, but, as disclosed in these pages, his courage and incorruptibility attracted an enthusiastic following, evident in the landslide election victories that brought him seats on Rio de Janeiro's city council and in the federal Congress.
John W. F. Dulles (1913-2008) was University Professor of Latin American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin and adjunct professor of history at the University of Arizona at Tucson. He has written extensively on modern Brazilian political history, including a two-volume biography of President Carlos Castello Branco.
"Brazilian Crusader is no doubt the best biography yet produced on Lacerda and the second volume . . . is certainly worth waiting for." —Luso-Brazilian Review