Naked Tropics

Essays on Empire and Other Rogues

Foreign policy analyses written by CFR fellows and published by the trade presses, academic presses, or the Council on Foreign Relations Press.

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South America

Read an excerpt of Naked Tropics.

In this volume, distinguished historian Kenneth Maxwell, Nelson and David Rockefeller senior fellow for inter-American Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, collects some of his most significant writings. Maxwell takes the reader on a lively journey from Macaoto to the Amazon forests, and each exquisite piece in the collection is a reflection of the author's passion. Major themes examined include the peopling of the Americas; the multiple subversions that transformed both colonizer and colonized; the adaptation of ideas, peoples, and plants in new environments; the spirit that took a "precocious" Portugal into its imperial journey from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean and on to China and Japan; and the rise of Brazil and its tumultuous history.

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South America

Reviews and Endorsements

[A] Latin primer ... this is lively history, made more readable by fascinating glimpses into the historian's own life and his passion for Brazil. [...] More importantly, Maxwell always keeps a firm eye on the bigger picture.

Richard Lapper, Financial Times

One of Maxwells achievements in this volume of essays is to make his own and others' work on Luso-Brazilian history and civilization both interesting and accessible to general readers. But he has done more than this. He has also shown why Luso-Brazilian history matters, and how it can and should be more effectively integrated into the broader picture of the history of Europe and the wider world.

Professor Sir John H. Elliot, New York Review of Books

An extraordinary collection of essays by a historian in love. Ken Maxwell explores the seductive mysteries of the tropics—and of Brazil, in particular—with marvelous knowledge and a contagious passion. From the origins of chocolate to the legacy of Empire to the tragic fate of a grass-roots environmentalist, nothing escapes Maxwell's omnivorous attention, and nowhere does his beautiful clear prose fail to delight.

Alma Guillermoprieto, author, Samba and The Heart that Bleeds

Original and distinguished and much more than the sum of its very considerable parts. A most impressive, enjoyable and instructive collection.

James Dunkerley, Director, Institute of Latin American Studies, University of London

Naked Tropics makes Brazil come alive without any dress or adornment save Ken Maxwell's wonderful writing, his extraordinary knowledge of the country and its history, and his contagious passion for its people and culture. Each of these sixteen essays is a gem that illuminates and entertains all at once. Must reading for anyone on the way to Brazil or just thinking about it.

John H. Coatsworth, Monroe Gutman Professor of Latin American Affairs and Director, David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies, Harvard University.

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