Portuguese: 2the Land and Its People

Marion Kaplan, Author Viking Books $27.5 (416p) ISBN 978-0-670-82364-2
This sprawling, sometimes rambling view of modern Portugal mingles straight history with travel information. Sections trace the country's growth from its Moorish origins through centuries of naval exploration, colonial empire and monarchy and on into the 20th century, covering the Portuguese literary tradition and the modern economic and political state. The pre-1900 account is jumbled and unsatisfactory, giving short shrift to the many discoveries that built the once mighty empire, but British photojournalist Kaplan, who has lived in Portugal for a decade, ably conveys the eras of fascism, war and revolution and present-day affairs in Europe's ``poor relation.'' After the toppling of dictator Antonio de Oliveira Salazar's regime in 1974, Portugal joined the EEC and embarked on an era of development. The author catalogues the successes and failures of this enterprise and paints a rosy picture of Portugal's economic future. The most enjoyable interludes, though, are Kaplan's digressions into the art and architecture of the country, capturing the beauty of sun-drenched cathedrals, castles and cities. At times the prose gushes, but sublime moments appear throughout. Photos. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
Paperback - 391 pages - 978-1-85754-845-7
Hardcover - 978-0-14-026428-9
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