Book Reviews

31 maio, 2007

110) Garibaldi, um heroi incontestavel

Garibaldi: An idol of his own design
The Economist, May 24th 2007

“WHAT a man! What prestige! He has the ability to excite everyone who sees him.” Thus did Le Siècle, a French republican newspaper, characterise the gathering wave of enthusiasm for Giuseppe Garibaldi. In 1860 he nearly drowned in a sea of love after capturing Sicily against ferocious odds, marching his troops through Calabria and thereby ushering in the new nation of Italy. A volunteer from Bergamo, witnessing Garibaldi's startling conquest of the south, recorded how the mere sight of the hero reduced normally sane observers to quivering goose-flesh: “The very soul of the people seemed transfused in him.”

In a study coinciding with the bicentenary of Garibaldi's birth, Lucy Riall, a professor at the University of London, also notes the trail of broken-hearted women that he left behind. But the cultivation of his renowned sexual appeal was as much political strategy—reaching a new constituency—as amorous design. “The General” (as he was known) was a shrewd politician and anti-politician rolled into one.

This is not traditional biography: virtually nothing is said of his infancy, youth or inner life. Rather, it is a history of cultural images. In setting out her hall of mirrors, Ms Riall has diligently mined obscure relics, cartoons, pamphlets, letters, novels and newspapers. Garibaldi suffered enormously for the Italian cause but his tribulations were also heavily spun—he had to incarnate the nation's “romantic agony”, not just his own personal Calvary. Such was his fearlessness in battle that contemporaries understandably considered his survival to an arthritic old age to be a miracle.

A staunch follower of Giuseppe Mazzini (the so-called “prophet of Italy”) in the 1830s, Garibaldi fled to Latin America after a failed mutiny. In exile he was frequently pictured on horseback, casually attired in his poncho, fighting for various insurgencies. Denounced by conservatives as a dangerous revolutionary bandit, he embodied (all the more so as he grew older) a militantly dissident form of democracy— alongside a much less attractive penchant for dictatorship.

He returned to Italy in 1848, a year of European revolutions. After his doomed endeavour to resist the French army that had come to crush the Roman republic and restore the pope, his stature grew, especially in liberal Protestant England. In the 1850s he came to favour the Piedmontese monarchy, but his detestation of the papacy continued, proving more enduring than his republicanism.

The Illustrated London News presented him replete with a tall, round Puritan hat, his flamboyance signalled by an ostrich feather. As the cartoonist commented, “He is a remarkably quiet-looking person, but wonderfully picturesque: he wore a white sort of cloak lined with red, and having a green velvet collar; it had plenty of bullet holes in it.” Britons still munch on the eponymous biscuits created after Garibaldi's triumphal tour of the country in 1864, when he intoxicated workers, shopkeepers, clergymen, lords and ladies alike.

Sociology was not yet a discipline, but before the century was out, mass idealisation of this sort would lend itself to the scientific study of charisma and group psychology. After Garibaldi's death in 1882, an official national cult did its best to sanitise the hero worship, airbrushing away the old hero's biting criticism of poor or corrupt government. But his image never entirely lost its incendiary appeal.

Critical of earlier historians who tended to treat Garibaldi with condescension, Ms Riall is anxious to display him as the resourceful manipulator of his own legend. There is much to be said in favour of this approach. But in rebutting the myth that he was a simpleton or a chameleon, she underplays his contradictions.

She allows that his love life had its jarring moments. He impulsively wed a second time but instantly dumped his bride on learning that an earlier liaison had led to her pregnancy. He could, she observes, be hurt, unforgiving, venomous and confused. But in the public realm, she pictures a much smoother operator. Her portrait is of a man constantly “alert to his singular importance as a political actor” but curiously lacking in the emotional convulsions that he incited all around him.

Garibaldi: Invention of a Hero
Lucy Riall
Yale University Press, 2007, 496 p.
ISBN: 9780300112122
ISBN-10: 0300112122
US$ 35.-

Giuseppe Garibaldi, the Italian revolutionary leader and popular hero, was among the best-known figures of the nineteenth century. This book seeks to examine his life and the making of his cult, to assess its impact, and understand its surprising success.

For thirty years Garibaldi was involved in every combative event in Italy. His greatest moment came in 1860, when he defended a revolution in Sicily and provoked the collapse of the Bourbon monarchy, the overthrow of papal power in central Italy, and the creation of the Italian nation state. It made him a global icon, representing strength, bravery, manliness, saintliness, and a spirit of adventure. Handsome, flamboyant, and sexually attractive, he was worshiped in life and became a cult figure after his death in 1882.

Lucy Riall shows that the emerging cult of Garibaldi was initially conceived by revolutionaries intent on overthrowing the status quo, that it was also the result of a collaborative effort involving writers, artists, actors, and publishers, and that it became genuinely and enduringly popular among a broad public. The book demonstrates that Garibaldi played an integral part in fashioning and promoting himself as a new kind of “charismatic” political hero. It analyzes the way the Garibaldi myth has been harnessed both to legitimize and to challenge national political structures. And it identifies elements of Garibaldi’s political style appropriated by political leaders around the world, including Mussolini and Che Guevara.

Lucy Riall is reader in modern European history at Birkbeck College, University of London. Her publications include The Italian Risorgimento: State, Society and National Unification and Sicily and the Unification of Italy: Liberal Policy and Local Power (1859-66).

109) Walter Laqueur sobre o declinio da Europa

Continental Drift
Europe shows signs of life, but Walter Laqueur argues that it's still dying.
The Wall Street journal, Thursday, May 31, 2007

on Walter Laqueur's: The Last Days of Europe

If you've heard the celebratory noises coming out of European capitals of late, you could be forgiven for thinking that, as with Mark Twain's prematurely recorded demise, reports of Europe's death may have been greatly exaggerated. For a continent in the supposed grip of demographic implosion, economic stagnation, political paralysis and existential anomie, the news has been oddly cheerful recently.

In the past year, the rate of economic growth in the eurozone has actually overtaken that of the U.S. The market capitalization of companies quoted on European stock exchanges has surpassed American corporate worth for the first time ever. London has edged ahead of New York in most categories as global financial capital. The euro, closely watched in Europe as a barometer of continental self-respect, is close to its highest level ever against the dollar.

Even Europe's infamous political stasis may be giving way to a hint of dynamism. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition government has defied the odds and pulled off small but important economic reforms. In Nicolas Sarkozy, the French have elected a man so committed to recasting the country's economy that he is widely viewed among the liberal elites as a dangerous radical.

All this could not have come at a more opportune moment. The European Union's leaders are in the midst of lengthy celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the European Communities. At the same time, the gloom that enveloped the EU after the French and Dutch rejected its beloved constitutional treaty two years ago has been replaced by a restrained optimism that the show might just be put back on the road this summer.

Is it possible, then, that the writers who have spent the past few years predicting Europe's collapse could be wrong? The short answer is: no. Even a corpse has been known to twitch once or twice before the rigor mortis sets in. The longer answer is provided by Walter Laqueur in "The Last Days of Europe," one of the more persuasive in a long line of volumes by authors on both sides of the Atlantic chronicling Europe's decline and foretelling its collapse.

Unlike the Euro-bashing polemics of a few of those authors, Mr. Laqueur's short book is measured, even sympathetic. It is mercifully free of references to cheese-eating surrender monkeys and misplaced historical analogies to appeasement. The tone is one of resigned dismay rather than grave-stomping glee. This temperate quality makes the book's theme--that Europe now faces potentially mortal challenges--all the more compelling.

The demographic problem is by now so familiar that it hardly bears restating. Mr. Laqueur notes that the average European family had five children in the 19th century; today it has fewer than two, a trend that will shrink the continent's population in the next century on a scale unprecedented in modern history.

The failure of Europeans to reproduce makes it vulnerable to internal schism. Too often Europe has reacted to the growing threat posed by extremists among its minorities with a tolerance and self-criticism that has bordered on capitulation. Meanwhile, social tensions increase, not least because of high emigration to Europe from Muslim countries and high birth rates among Muslim populations. No one has yet found a good way of integrating those populations into mainstream European society.

Even as the challenge from fanatical Islam has intensified, at home and abroad, Europeans have found new ways to abase themselves before it. Two years ago it was the Danish cartoons affair, in which too few politicians and opinion leaders defended the rights of the Danish newspaper that published them; last year it was the collective European cringe in the wake of the pope's mildly assertive remarks about the disconnect between Islam and reason; this year it has been the embarrassing spectacle of humiliated British servicemen fawning in front of their Iranian captors.

In the economic field, Europe is celebrating a growth rate of 2.5% annually; in the U.S. a similar pace is regarded as a crisis. Meanwhile unemployment remains brutally high and productivity stagnant. Mr. Laqueur notes that Europeans sometimes embrace their economic sluggishness as part of their "soft power" appeal: all those 35-hour weeks, long vacations and generous social benefits. But the long-term cost of their welfare states--and their confiscatory tax rates--may eventually make such luxuries unaffordable.

Mr. Laqueur ponders whether Europe will really surrender to these adverse trends or finally resist. He is not optimistic. Perhaps Europeans will find ways to bolster their birth rates. Perhaps they will stiffen in the face of an escalating terrorist threat. Perhaps Muslims will assimilate better into Europe's democratic and tolerant societies. Perhaps the pro-American sensibilities and the pro-growth nimbleness of Eastern European countries will drive the rest of the Continent out of the ditch of stagnation and pacifism. Perhaps.

But then again, as Mr. Laqueur observes, museums are filled with the remnants of vanished civilizations. Abroad, the U.S. has long surpassed Europe in power, influence and economic dynamism; Asia may do so before long. At home, a profound demoralization has set in, induced in part by the continent's ruinous past century.

It was a century in which unimaginable violence sapped the regenerative energies of a wearied people; in which the seductive falsehoods of twin totalitarian ideologies undermined moral self-confidence; in which a flaccid relativism replaced the firm ethical boundaries of religious belief. It was also a century, we now see, in which the luxuries of rapid economic growth produced a false sense of security that cannot be sustained in a global age.

Not dead yet, maybe. But even Mark Twain succumbed eventually to the obituary writers.

Mr. Baker is U.S. editor and an assistant editor of the Times of London. You can buy "The Last Days of Europe" from the OpinionJournal bookstore.

27 maio, 2007

108) Al Gore, Assault on Reason

Books of The Times
Al Gore Speaks of a Nation in Danger
The New York Times Review of Books, May 22, 2007

In “The Assault on Reason” Al Gore excoriates George W. Bush, asserting that the president is “out of touch with reality,” that his administration is so incompetent that it “can’t manage its own way out of a horse show,” that it ignored “clear warnings” about the terrorist threat before 9/11 and that it has made Americans less safe by “stirring up a hornets’ nest in Iraq,” while using “the language and politics of fear” to try to “drive the public agenda without regard to the evidence, the facts or the public interest.”
Skip to next paragraph

Fernando Ariza/The New York Times
"The Assault On Reason" by Al Gore
By Al Gore
308 pages. Penguin Press. $25.95.

The administration’s pursuit of unilateralism abroad, Mr. Gore says, has isolated the United States in an ever more dangerous world, even as its efforts to expand executive power at home and “relegate the Congress and the courts to the sidelines” have undermined the constitutional system of checks and balances.
The former vice president contends that the fiasco in Iraq stems from President Bush’s use of “a counterfeit combination of misdirected vengeance and misguided dogma to dominate the national discussion, bypass reason, silence dissent and intimidate those who questioned his logic both inside and outside the administration.”
He argues that the gruesome acts of torture committed at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq “were a direct consequence of the culture of impunity — encouraged, authorized and instituted” by President Bush and former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. And he writes that the violations of civil liberties committed by the Bush-Cheney administration — including its secret authorization of the National Security Agency to eavesdrop without a court order on calls and e-mail messages between the United States and other countries, and its suspension of the rights of due process for “enemy combatants” — demonstrate “a disrespect for America’s Constitution that has now brought our republic to the brink of a dangerous breach in the fabric of democracy.”
Similar charges have been made by a growing number of historians, political analysts and even former administration insiders, and President Bush’s plummeting approval ratings have further emboldened his critics. But Mr. Gore writes not just as a former vice president and the man who won the popular vote in the 2000 election, but also as a possible future candidate for the Democratic nomination in the 2008 race for the White House, and the vehemence of his language and his arguments make statements about the Bush administration by already announced candidates like Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton seem polite and mild-mannered in contrast.
And yet for all its sharply voiced opinions, “The Assault on Reason” turns out to be less a partisan, election-cycle harangue than a fiercely argued brief about the current Bush White House that is grounded in copiously footnoted citations from newspaper articles, Congressional testimony and commission reports — a brief that is as powerful in making its points about the implications of this administration’s policies as the author’s 2006 book, “An Inconvenient Truth,” was in making its points about the fallout of global warming.
This volume moves beyond its criticisms of the Bush administration to diagnose the ailing condition of America as a participatory democracy — low voter turnout, rampant voter cynicism, an often ill-informed electorate, political campaigns dominated by 30-second television ads, and an increasingly conglomerate-controlled media landscape — and it does so not with the calculated, sound-bite-conscious tone of many political-platform-type books, but with the sort of wonky ardor that made both the book and movie versions of “An Inconvenient Truth” so bluntly effective.
Mr. Gore’s central argument is that “reason, logic and truth seem to play a sharply diminished role in the way America now makes important decisions” and that the country’s public discourse has become “less focused and clear, less reasoned.” This “assault on reason,” he suggests, is personified by the way the Bush White House operates. Echoing many reporters and former administration insiders, Mr. Gore says that the administration tends to ignore expert advice (be it on troop levels, global warming or the deficit), to circumvent the usual policy-making machinery of analysis and debate, and frequently to suppress or disdain the best evidence available on a given subject so it can promote predetermined, ideologically driven policies.
Doubts about Saddam Hussein’s pursuit of weapons of mass destruction were sidestepped in the walk-up to the war: Mr. Gore says that uranium experts at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee told him “there was zero possibility” that aluminum tubes acquired by Saddam Hussein were for the purpose of nuclear enrichment, but felt intimidated from “making any public statement that disagreed with the assertions being made to the people by President Bush.”
And the Army chief of staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki’s pre-invasion recommendation that several hundred thousand troops would be needed for a successful occupation of Iraq was similarly dismissed. “Rather than engaging in a reasoned debate on the question,” Mr. Gore writes, administration members “undercut Shinseki for disagreeing with their preconceived notion — even though he was an expert, and they were not.”
Moreover, Mr. Gore contends, the administration’s penchant for secrecy (keeping everything from the details of its coercive interrogation policy to its National Security Agency surveillance program under wraps) has dismantled the principle of accountability, even as what he calls its “unprecedented and sustained campaign of mass deception” on matters like Iraq has made “true deliberation and meaningful debate by the people virtually impossible.”
Mr. Gore points out that the White House repeatedly implied that there was a connection between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, between the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and Iraq, when in fact no such linkage existed. He observes that the administration “withheld facts” from Congress concerning the cost of the Medicare prescription drug benefit, which turned out to be “far higher than the numbers given to Congress by the president.”
And he contends that “it has become common for President Bush to rely on special interests” — like those represented by the Iraqi exile Ahmad Chalabi before the war, and ExxonMobil on the climate crisis — for “basic information about the policies important to these interests.”
When Mr. Gore turns to the larger cultural and social reasons behind the decline of reason in America’s marketplace of ideas, his arguments become fuzzier and less convincing. His argument that radio was essential to the rise and reign of Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini (“without the introduction of radio, it is doubtful that these totalitarian regimes would have commanded the obedience of the people in the manner they did”) is highly reductive, just as his argument that television has enabled politicians to manipulate mass opinion while preventing individuals from taking part in the national dialogue seems overly simplistic.
As for his conviction that the Internet can help re-establish “an open communications environment in which the conversation of democracy can flourish,” it plays down the more troubling aspects of the Web, like its promotion of rumor and misinformation alongside real information, and its tendency to fuel polarizing, partisan warfare.
Part civics lesson, part political jeremiad, part philosophical tract, “The Assault on Reason” reveals an angry, impassioned Al Gore — a far cry from the carefully scripted, earth-tone-wearing Al Gore of the 2000 presidential campaign and the programmed “creature of Washington” described in the reporter Bill Turque’s 2000 biography of him, “Inventing Al Gore.”
Much the way that the movie “An Inconvenient Truth” showed a more accessible Al Gore — at ease with himself and passionate about the dangers of global warming — this book shows a fiery, throw-caution-to-the winds Al Gore, who, whether or not he runs for the White House again, has decided to lay it all on the line with a blistering assessment of the Bush administration and the state of public discourse in America at this “fateful juncture” in history.

24 maio, 2007

107) The European Economy since 1945, Barry Eichengreen

Barry Eichengreen, The European Economy since 1945: Coordinated Capitalism and Beyond. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006. xx + 495 pp. $35 (cloth), ISBN: 978-0-691-12710-1.

Reviewed for EH.NET by Stephen Broadberry, Department of Economics, University of Warwick.

In 1996, Barry Eichengreen published an influential article in a book edited by Nick Crafts and Gianni Toniolo, _Economic Growth in Europe since 1945_, (Cambridge University Press). Eichengreen argued that the same institutions which facilitated postwar recovery in western Europe during the 1950s and 1960s, also exerted a drag on growth from the 1970s. The high growth of the 1950s and 1960s was seen as a result of the particular suitability of western Europe's institutions of co-ordinated capitalism to catching-up on the United States through capital investment and the absorption of technology and organizational forms from abroad. However, as the frontier was approached, the unsuitability of those same institutions for innovation was seen as creating a crisis of adjustment. This excellent volume can be seen as expanding on the ideas first developed there, updating them to take account of the experience of the last decade, and bringing the centrally planned economies of eastern Europe into the picture. The picture is now much more nuanced than the earlier article, and the author has become more ambivalent about Europe's economic prospects.

The links to the earlier article are still very visible in chapter 2 on the mainsprings of growth, which sets out the basic analytical framework. A great deal of emphasis is still placed on the "neocorporatist bargain" or postwar settlement between employers, trade unions and governments, which is seen as underpinning high levels of investment. Workers agree to wage restraint so long as employers commit to high levels of investment, and employers commit to high levels of investment so long as workers agree to wage restraint, with the whole bargain being overseen by an interventionist state committed to maintaining full employment through Keynesian policies. The establishment and more or less successful functioning of these neocorporatist bargains in individual west European countries is analyzed in chapters 3, 4 and 7 on the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s respectively. Chapters 7 and 9 focus on the difficulties which these institutions faced in the 1970s and 1980s. The problem can be seen as the breakdown of wage restraint as growth slowed down with the exhaustion of the potential for rapid catch-up growth, and as memories of the mass unemployment of the interwar years began to fade.

Superimposed on this general framework are a number of sub-themes which amplify the central argument of the importance of institutions. First, the author is able to draw on his unrivalled expertise in the area of international monetary systems to show in chapter 3 how Europe's neocorporatist bargains were facilitated by the Marshall Plan, German economic and monetary reform, the 1949 devaluations and the European Payments Union. Then in chapter 8, he argues that the institutions of the international monetary system exacerbated the breakdown of the neocorporatist bargains as payments problems mounted and the Bretton Woods system collapsed.

A second sub-theme concerns the role of economic and political integration in western Europe, with the initial impetus to co-operation to avoid a return to the conflict of the previous half-century seen in chapter 6 as bolstering the institutions of coordinated capitalism in western Europe. In chapter 11, the further integration pursued since the 1980s is seen as identified with liberalization, and thus helping to overcome the crisis of adjustment by undermining the institutions of coordinated capitalism.

A third sub-theme is the application of the basic approach to eastern Europe, the most extreme case of coordinated capitalism, where the market economy was all but eliminated. Here, of course, the specifics need some modification, but even eastern Europe conformed to the pattern of rapid growth during the 1950s and 1960s, followed by slow-down from the 1970s. Large firms and unions were organs of the state, so there can be no equivalent of the neocorporatist bargain. However, in discussing western Europe, Eichengreen counters criticism that his earlier work was too focused on the highly unionized manufacturing sector by noting that the 1970s saw not just a breakdown of the neocorporatist bargain on wages and investment, but a major technological shift associated with the decline in the cost of information processing, with radical implications for the organization of services as well as industry. This shift towards information and communications intensive technologies, allowing much greater customization of output to individual consumer tastes, can be seen as creating difficulties for the institutions of organized capitalism in western Europe, geared towards large-scale production of standardized products and provision of standardized services in regulated markets. But for eastern Europe, where governments relied for their survival on limiting the free flow of information, it proved fatal. The experiences of the centrally planned economies are discussed in chapter 5, covering the rapid growth of the early postwar period, and chapter 10 on the collapse at the end of the 1980s and the subsequent transition.

The book ends with the author hedging his bets about Europe's economic future, depending on whether the most appropriate indicator of economic performance is GDP per capita or GDP per hour worked. Although GDP per capita in Europe is only around two-thirds of the U.S. level, GDP per hour worked is about equal to, and in some countries higher than in the US. The MIT view of this is that Europeans simply enjoy their leisure more than Americans, who are caught in a rat race. However, the Minnesotan view is that Europe is being held back by the institutions of coordinated capitalism, with high tax rates and regulations stopping people from working as much as they would like. If you accept the Minnesotan view, Europe is in for a tough period of liberalization or relative decline, but if you accept the MIT view, Europe can continue to enjoy its chosen combination of high productivity and leisure.

My main criticism of the earlier article was its bias towards manufacturing, and that has been dealt with to some extent here by the discussion of technology and its application to services. However, this has the effect of giving a much more central role to changes in technology, which are never really explained in any detail. Also, a place has been found for the importance of the shift of labor out of agriculture, but again agriculture is never really covered in sufficient depth. However, any shortcomings in the treatment of the major sectors should certainly not weigh heavily in the balance against the overwhelming list of positive features about this book, which is clearly structured and well-written, concise and clear. Above all, it strikes a masterly balance between a clear theoretical structure and sufficient attention to historical detail.

Stephen Broadberry is Professor of Economic History in the Department of Economics, University of Warwick, and co-organizer of the CEPR Economic History Initiative. His most recent book is _Market Services and the Productivity Race, 1850-2000: British Performance in International Perspective_ (Cambridge University Press, 2006). He is currently co-editing (with Kevin O'Rourke) a 2-volume economic history of modern Europe.

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106) Expansao maritima portuguesa

Um livro a conferir:

Portuguese Oceanic Expansion, 1400–1800
Edited by Francisco Bethencourt
University of London
Diogo Ramada Curto
European University Institute, Florence
Cambridge University Press, 2007, Hardback
(ISBN-13: 9780521846448)


List of Contributors page ix
Foreword by Norman Fiering xi
Preface by Francisco Bethencourt and Diogo Ramada Curto xv
Reference Maps xvii
Introduction 1
Francisco Bethencourt and Diogo Ramada Curto
Translated by Neil Safier
Part I. Economics and Society
1 The Economy of the Portuguese Empire 19
Stuart B. Schwartz
2 Costs and Financial Trends in the Portuguese Empire, 1415–1822 49
Jorge M. Pedreira
3 Markets and Merchant Communities in the Indian Ocean: Locating the Portuguese 88
Michael N. Pearson
4 The Economic Network of Portugal’s Atlantic World 109
Luiz Felipe de Alencastro
Translated by Marguerite Itamar Harrison
5 The Portuguese in Africa 138
John K. Thornton
Part II. Politics and Institutions
6 Patterns of Settlement in the Portuguese Empire, 1400–1800 161
A. J. R. Russell-Wood
7 Political Configurations and Local Powers 197
Francisco Bethencourt
8 Ecclesiastical Structures and Religious Action 255
Isabel dos Guimarães Sá
Part III. The Cultural World
9 Portuguese Expansion, 1400–1800: Encounters, Negotiations, and Interactions 283
Anthony Disney
10 Portuguese Imperial and Colonial Culture 314
Diogo Ramada Curto
11 Language and Literature in the Portuguese Empire 358
Luís de Sousa Rebelo
12 The Expansion and the Arts: Transfers, Contaminations, Innovations 390
Luís de Moura Sobral
13 Science and Technology in Portuguese Navigation: The Idea of Experience in the Sixteenth Century 460
Francisco Contente Domingues
Translated by Neil Safier
Part IV. The Comparative Dimension
14 Portuguese Expansion in a Global Context 480
Felipe Fernández-Armesto
Index 513