On March 31, 1964, Brazil began a period that would mark its history forever: the military dictatorship, which lasted until 1985. On that date, army tanks were sent to Rio de Janeiro, where then-President João Goulart, and started the civil-military coup. Three days later, the president went into exile in Uruguay, and a military junta took power in Brazil. As early as April 15, General Castello Branco took office, becoming the first of five soldiers to govern the country during this period.
To learn more about the dark and violent time of Brazilian history, we list eight books that can help you better understand the period that lasted 21 years. Between them, Grandma’s Houseby the author Marcelo Godoy, talks about the torture center Detachment of Information Operations and Center for Internal Defense Operations (DOI-Codi) and can be found for around R$ 110. Other options that portray historical facts, such as The Ashamed Dictatorshipby reporter Elio Gaspari, can be purchased for as little as R$59. See the list below for eight titles that talk about the 1964 military coup and the resulting dictatorship in Brazil.
1. 1964 – from BRL 42
In this work, the two historians, Angela de Castro Gomes and Jorge Ferreira, reveal the atrocities committed during the military dictatorship in Brazil between 1964 and 1985, since the mandate of Jânio Quadros. The chapters tell that the period is of a civil-military character, as there was a collusion of the three coup-prone Armed Forces who felt threatened, but that it was also a civil movement, as it had broad support from social sectors, from businessmen to the middle classes.
Published by Civilização Brasileira, 1964 traces the timeline of the events that led to the civil-military coup, such as those that took place in 1961. The 420-page physical book can be found from R$42, or around R$29 in the for Kindle.
two. blood baptism – from BRL 44
Recommended for people who are already more involved in the conflicts at the time of the military government, this work is a historical account of the involvement of Dominican friars with leftist movements. The book follows and reports the connection with the extreme left leader, Carlos Mariguella, and all the support that the religious provided to those who needed to escape the country to save themselves.
In 448 pages, the author Frei Betto also relives the arrest and torture of the Dominicans, especially Frei Tito, who even after being released and exiled in France, developed psychological problems that led him to suicide. Launched in 1982, the title won the Jabuti Prize for Best Memoirs, was translated into French and Italian and is considered one of the classics of Brazilian literature in the 20th century. The physical version, published by Rocco, is available for approx. R$44, while the digital option costs around R$24.
3. Marighella: the guerrilla who set the world on fire – from BRL 47
This book, written by Mário Magalhães, describes the turbulent life of the militant Carlos Marighella, from the strike in Bahia to all aspects of the urban guerrilla. The communist militant and constituent federal deputy was the founder of the largest armed group opposing the military dictatorship (Ação Libertadora Nacional). Available for around R$47 in softcover, it can also be found from R$37 in the Kindle version.
In the work, the author places these actions in a neutral position, leaving the reader to agree or not with the ideals that the militant passed in the 60s, exploring his various facets. At the pace of a thriller, the book by Companhia das Letras realistically reconstructs prison passages, resistance to torture, espionage operations in the Cold War and guerrilla robberies of banks, armored cars and pay trains.
4. The Military Dictatorship and the Coups Within the Coup: 1964 -1969 – from BRL 52
In this book, the author Carlos Chaga explores the history of the military dictatorship told by communication vehicles, newspapers and journalists to unravel the period with colors and voices of the time. In more than 490 pages, the reader is introduced to the moment that established the Institutional Act nº 5, of 1968, known as “the coup within the coup”.
The author discusses the civil-military attack in 1964, when the military expelled President João Goulart. And the coup from “within” is the hardening of the regime, with the closure of Congress. This work deals not only with the dark period between 1964 and 1969, but also with the ten delicate years that preceded the seizure of power and the betrayals at the top of the military regime. You can purchase the work from R$52 in the physical version or through the Kindle Unlimited service for free.
5. Endless captivity – from BRL 58
This work brings to the fore the issue, hitherto kept under wraps, about the kidnapping of children daughters of political militants during the dictatorial regime in Brazil. Not being a light read, it clearly indicates the state terrorism committed during the period. They are documents and reports burned in a history full of gaps, in addition to testimonies of ex-military formed by silences.
According to the author Eduardo Reina himself, with the support of reporter Caco Barcellos, “disappearance and disappearance of disappearance” took place, which put the victims in a veritable “endless captivity”. The book by the publisher Alameda Editorial has 304 pages and is seen for values close to R$ 58 in the physical version and for R$ 31 in the Kindle option.
6. The Ashamed Dictatorship – from BRL 59
The book The Ashamed Dictatorship is the first volume of a series written by reporter Elio Gaspari. In the chapters, the author describes that the pre-AI-5 period was built little by little and brings information about the international relations of the time, with different cultural elements. The reading promises to be simple and easy to understand, bringing certain actions by the military of Castelo Branco, and emphasizing the violent repression of the period that lasted 21 years.
The edition of Record, published in 2014, has 490 pages and contains several unpublished photos, information on military nomenclatures and facts with important documentary references and testimonies of people who lived and participated directly from 1950 to 1967. The book can be purchased by about R$ 59 in the physical version or for free for those who have a Kindle Unlimited subscription.
7. Women in Armed Struggle – from BRL 95
In Women in the Armed Fight, historian Maria Cláudia Badan Ribeiro presents more than 45 women who resisted the Brazilian military dictatorship by the National Liberation Action (ALN). The characters testify that women were not just an auxiliary line in the armed struggle against repression.
In the 572-page work, the researcher presents reflections on the emancipatory legacy of the rebels. Maria Cláudia intends to dismantle misconceptions and prejudices spread by agents of the military dictatorship, in addition to showing how these militants broke with society and their own families to integrate the front of this battle. The book, published by Alameda Editorial, is available for R$95 in the physical version and R$77 in the mobile version.
8. Grandma’s House – from BRL 110
The title is based on the nickname given by the military for the repression of the DOI-Codi, which functioned as a center for combating left-wing armed (and later disarmed) groups. In this 738-page work, author Marcelo Godoy builds the narrative based on official documents and interviews with those involved in torture, both torturers and tortured, during the period from 1969 to 1991.
The book, by the publisher Alameda Casa Editorial, stems from an extensive and complete research that analyzed documents, but mainly relied on testimonials from agents of Casa da Vovó. Despite not being an “easy” reading, the author does not go into detail about the methods used by the torturers. It is important to note that the work received the Jabuti Award in the Reporting and Documentary Category. The paperback title is available for purchase for around R$110, while the Kindle version costs approximately R$62.
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