Despite taking multiple Latin American history courses in college and even living in South America for a year, my understanding of Brazil was limited to what I have seen in films like Central Station and City of God. I decided that I needed to learn as much as I could about my host country before I leave in June. Here are some of the books and other resources that I'm using for my self-taught crash course.
"Brazil on the Rise" is written by a New York Times correspondent. Some reviewers accuse him of being too critical and negative about Brazil. He claims to have vetted his ideas with Brazilian colleagues and family. I'm giving it a chance (I'm only a couple of chapters in). So far, I'm enjoying it.
I read NACLA's (North American Congress on Latin America) magazine often in college when doing research for my Latin American history classes. It's a great publication. I just downloaded a few articles from the March/April 2011 issue and hope to read them on the plane. The articles focus on the transition from Lula to Dilma Rousseff's administration (Brazil's first female president).
I am not going to carry a guidebook with me to Brazil, but I did download the PDF of the first chapter of the Lonely Planet Brazil guide, which focuses on history, culture, and food. And I picked up the Lonely Planet Brazilian Portuguese Phrasebook. I plan to try my best to master some basic phrases. I speak Spanish pretty well, which helps, but learning Portuguese has proven to be a challenge so far.
website to be able to download the first ten lessons for free. They are short and sweet and go over the most essential phrases as the name of the site implies. All ten lessons total about an hour.
I like to be informed when I travel. I hope to be able to integrate what I am reading about Brazil's history, economy, and culture into my reflections on this blog over the next few weeks. I hope you join me.