520 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 38 halftones, notes, bibl., index
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-5576-5
Published: October 2020
eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-5577-2
Published: September 2020
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Awards & distinctions
2021 Sergio Buarque de Holanda Prize for Best Book in Social Sciences, Brazil Section of the Latin American Studies Association
Interweaving an intimate and colorful story of Lula’s life—his love for home, soccer, factory floor, and union hall—with an analysis of large-scale forces, French argues that Lula was uniquely equipped to influence the authoritarian structures of power in this developing nation. His cunning capacity to speak with, not at, people and to create shared political meaning was fundamental to his political triumphs. After Lula left office, his opponents convicted and incarcerated him on charges of money laundering and corruption—but his immense army of voters celebrated his recent release from jail, insisting that he is the victim of a right-wing political ambush. The story of Lula is not over.
About the Author
John D. French is professor of history at Duke University and the author, most recently, of Drowning in Laws: Labor Law and Brazilian Political Culture.
For more information about John D. French, visit the Author Page.
“So why is French’s book today the definitive biography of Lula? The answer is that the author has managed to write about a prominent figure . . . without embracing the personalism so often associated with him. . . . French paints a vivid picture of a person whose importance derives from the fact that he is part of a broader story, a genuinely national one. These inter-related perspectives, personal and national, drive this work.”—Folha de Sao Paulo
"An immersive and broadly laudatory biography of former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, whom U.S. President Barack Obama once hailed as 'the most popular politician on earth.' French adroitly traces Lula’s beginnings as an impoverished rural migrant in industrializing São Paulo, where he became a skilled metalworker, and then his evolution into a determined trade union leader, a savvy negotiator, and, ultimately, a powerful orator and dominant politician."--Foreign Affairs
"The best analytical work yet on the former president, offering profound insights into Lula’s rise and his enduring appeal through shifting political tides. . . . Rather than a mere individualistic account, the book is a complex history of the seismic changes that reshaped Brazil’s social relations — relations between parents and children, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, labor and capital, intellectuals and factory workers — in the twentieth century. Lula and His Politics of Cunning thus stands out not only for its account of the trajectory of a remarkable figure but for the way it inserts this figure in the country’s history."--Jacobin
“This impressive biography of Lula, drawing on John French’s unparalleled knowledge of modern Brazilian history, benefits from French’s thoughtful meditations on the possibilities and limits of leadership; his attention to language and meaning, which can’t be reduced to class but rather can construct class identity; and his analysis of how a ‘cunning’ leader can create unity from divergence.”—Greg Grandin, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America
“In this exciting and, in certain aspects, surprising book, John French advances innovative ideas about how to use Lula's life trajectory as a lens to analyze Brazil’s social and political transformations from the 1950s to the first decades of the twenty-first century.”—Alexandre Fortes, author of Nós do Quarto Distrito
“The definitive study of Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, without question the most important Latin American political figure of the last thirty-five years.”—Daniel James, author of Doña María's Story