Brazillionaires: Chasing Dreams of Wealth in an American Country

Alex Cuadros. Random/Spiegel & Grau, $28 (328p) ISBN 978-0-8129-9676-0
Part memoir, part exposé, and part historical narrative, this fascinating look at wealth in Brazil is a strong debut for Cuadros, former Bloomberg News “billionaires reporter” for Latin America. It’s not surprising that a country larger in size than the United States and home to vast natural resources has become one of the world’s top economies. What is surprising is Brazil’s number of billionaires—54 in U.S. dollars and 150 by the Brazilian real—and how quickly some got rich, such as oil magnate Eike Batista, who rapidly acquired $30 billion and then lost it all in just a year and a half. Born and raised in America, Cuadros relates his experiences as an outsider, writing that he sometimes “missed the codes” regarding issues such as race, religion, and government. While explaining how Brazil’s billionaires “get rich and stay rich,” he explores the role of agriculture, environmental regulations, corruption, and media. Touching on the last point, he describes how the enormous Globo TV network, owned by the billionaire Marinho family, frequently inserts didactic morals into its immensely popular telenovelas. Power is clearly the real impetus for the driven individuals profiled in the book. Readers will be eager to see what topic Cuadros tackles next. Agent: Howard Yoon, Ross Yoon Agency. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/02/2016
Release date: 07/12/2016
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