Read Os Sertões - Volume I by Euclides da Cunha Free Online
Book Title: Os Sertões - Volume I|
The author of the book: Euclides da Cunha
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Reader ratings: 5.6
Edition: Abril Coleções
Date of issue: September 4th 2010
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Format files: PDF
The size of the: 4.67 MB
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For the last week, I have been immersed in this unexpectedly great history. For some strange reason, I have confused this book with Guimaraes's The Devil to Pay in the Backlands; and I have always assumed that the Brazilian film O Cangaceiro by Lima Barreto was based on Rebellion in the Backlands. I was wrong on both counts, but it doesn't matter. That's because, in the end, I regard da Cunha's book on the level of Herodotus, Thucydides and Gibbon as one of the greatest of all works of history.
Picture to yourself an isolated and desolate part of Northeastern Brazil which was populated by the followers of a heretical religious leader called Antonio Conselheiro, or "Anthony the Counselor." His followers were mostly mestizo jagunços, backwoodsmen who were uniquely acquainted with this arid region of broken down mountain ranges. They built a capital of some 5,200 dwellings at a place called Canudos.
Based on misconceptions of what Antonio's followers were up to, the newly formed Republic of Brazil send three military expeditions, all of whom were shot to pieces by hidden sharpshooters. Rarely did the Brazilian soldiers ever see their enemy, but they felt their bullets. From these failed expeditions, the jagunços were able to replace their blunderbusses with the latest in military technology, along with several hundred thousand rounds of unused ammunition.
Into this strange situation marched a fourth expedition in April 1897. This expedition was likewise being mowed down until the Brazilians were lucky enough in mid-course to choose Carlos Machado de Bittencourt as the commander. Bittencourt did what none of the other generals did: He set up strong bases of supply and got men, supplies, and food and water to the besieged expedition, who were within sight of Canudos but unable to proceed further.
What makes this a unique book is that Euclides da Cunha was not only present at the scene, but he was sympathetic to the enemy:What did it matter that they [the Brazilians:] had six thousand rifles and six thousand sabers; of what avail were the blows from twelve thousand arms, the tread of twelve thousand military boots, their six thousand revolvers and twenty cannon, their thousands upon thousands of grenades and shrapnel shells; of what avail were the executions and the conflagrations, the hunger and the thirst which they had inflicted upon the enemy; what had they achieved by ten months of fighting and one hundred days of incessant cannonading; of what profit to them these heaps of ruins, that picture no pen could portray of the demolished churches, or, finally, that clutter of broken images, fallen altars, shattered saints -- and all this beneath a bright and tranquil sky which seemingly was quite unconcerned with it all, as they pursued their flaming ideal of absolutely extinguishing a form of religious belief that was deeply rooted and which brought consolation to their fellow-beings?This is a book that should be beside the cot of every NATO general officer in Afghanistan.
There is an ironic postscript. Years after the massacre in Canudos -- for there was no general surrender: the jagunços fought to the last man. Various sermons of Antonio Conselheiro were found and it has been determined that he was a legitimate religious leader and that both the Catholic Church and the Brazilian government attacked without legitimate cause.
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Read information about the authorEuclides (archaic spelling Euclydes) da Cunha (January 20, 1866 – August 15, 1909) was a Brazilian writer, sociologist and engineer. His most important work is Os Sertões (Rebellion in the backlands), a non-fictional account of the military expeditions promoted by the Brazilian government against the rebellious village of Canudos, known as the War of Canudos. This book was a favorite of Robert Lowell, who put it above Tolstoy, the Russian writer.
Euclides da Cunha was also heavily influenced by Naturalism and its Darwinian proponents. Os Sertões characterised the coast of Brazil as a chain of civilisations while the interior was more primitively influenced.
Euclides da Cunha was the basis for the character of The Journalist in Mario Vargas Llosa's The War of the End of the World.
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