Empire Adrift

Empire Adrift : The Portuguese Court in Rio De Janeiro, 1808-1821

4.05 (125 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

In 1807, the Portuguese prince regent Dom Joao made an extraordinary decision. Although horrified by the idea of sea travel, Napoleon's troops were closing in on Lisbon so he opted to transplant his entire court and government to Portugal's largest colony, Brazil. 10,000 aristocrats, ministers, priests and servants clambered aboard the rickety fleet. After a rough passage they spilled off their ships bedraggled and lice-ridden to the astonishment of their new-world subjects. Thus began a thirteen-year period of imperial rule from a 'tropical Versailles' set against the city's jungle-clad mountains. But this only partially obscured the brutal workings of what was then the largest slaving port in the Americas. While the court grappled with the dark side of its own empire, Brazil was coming of age. Patrick Wilcken brings this remarkable period to the life, blending vivid contemporary testament with a rich evocation of a time in history when European royalty went native.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 128 x 192 x 24mm | 199.58g
  • Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 0747568693
  • 9780747568698
  • 793,956

Review quote

'A brilliant account of a bizarre yet momentous event Wilcken tells this unfamiliar yet extraordinary story with elan. Empire Adrift is a model of historical writing, erudite yet lively, maintaining narrative vigour while accurately rendering complex events at different times in different continents. Wilcken combines a sense of place with a keen eye for the grotesque. He has a striking cast of characters to work with' Guardian 'Wilcken is a consummate portraitist, and one learns a great deal of the machinations and ambitions of diplomats and of the intrigues of royal relations' Irish Times 'Wilcken's perceptive and skilful narration of the extraordinary culture clash between New and Old Worlds is fascinating, at times hilarious and helps explain why modern Brazil turned out so differently from its South American neighbours' Alex Bellos, author of Futebol 'He writes well, describing events or evoking characters. The narrative is fast-moving and lucid By telling a good story, and placing it in multiple contexts, he makes Empire Adrift a distinguished and enjoyable first book' Times Literary Supplementshow more

About Patrick Wilcken

Patrick Wilcken grew up in Sydney and studied at Goldsmiths College and the Institute of Latin American Studies in London. He has contributed Brazil-related reviews and features to the Times Literary Supplement and the Guardian. He has spent lengthy periods in Rio de Janeiro and now lives in Battersea, London. This is his first book.show more

Review Text

"A brilliant account of a bizarre yet momentous event ... Wilcken tells this unfamiliar yet extraordinary story with elan. Empire Adrift is a model of historical writing, erudite yet lively, maintaining narrative vigour while accurately rendering complex events at different times in different continents. Wilcken combines a sense of place with a keen eye for the grotesque. He has a striking cast of characters to work with." (Guardian)show more

Rating details

125 ratings
4.05 out of 5 stars
5 26% (33)
4 54% (67)
3 19% (24)
2 1% (1)
1 0% (0)
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