This review is for all you lusophones out there (you know who you are). On a recent bus trip from Juazeiro do São Luís (made longer than normal by five hours spent on the side of the road in Piaui) I read the book 1822 by Laurentino Gomes. The book covers the year of the Brazilian independence from Portugal–as well as subsequent events. It is a followup book to 1808, by the same author. I have not read 1808, but now it is on my list.
1822 bears the subtitle “How a wise man, a sad princess, and a money-crazy Scotsman helped Dom Pedro I create Brazil–a country that seemed destined to fail…but in the end succeeded.” Gomes details the lives of the main players in the events that led to the separation of Brazil from Portugal. Dom Pedro I (brilliant leader, womanizer of epic proportions), Dona Leopoldina (hapless Hapsburg princess who found herself married to Dom Pedro I), José Bonifácio (wise counselor who fell into, then out of, then back into favor with Dom Pedro), and many other colorful figures are brought to life in this painstakingly researched history.
Of particular interest to me was Thomas Cochrane, Scottish adventurer who helped Dom Pedro build a navy that could drive the Portuguese ships from Brazilian waters. I was amazed to discover that Cochrane’s story has much to do with my current city of residence, São Luís. I will devote a blog post to this later on, but suffice it to say that there are no statues to Cochrane here, nor do any roads, schools, bridges or bairros bear his name.
If you can read Portuguese–and are at all interested in the history of Brazil and/or Portugal–you should really get this book.