Fernando Henrique Cardoso: Reinventing Democracy in Brazil

Fernando Henrique Cardoso: Reinventing Democracy in Brazil

Fernando Henrique Cardoso: Reinventing Democracy in Brazil

Fernando Henrique Cardoso: Reinventing Democracy in Brazil


This biography of Fernando Henrique Cardoso traces his life and intellectual development, describing his childhood in a supportive political family through to his term as president.


I first read Fernando Henrique Cardoso's work in the 1960S when I was doing graduate work in sociology at Washington University in St. Louis. I then spent two years in Brazil, from 1966 to 1968, including one year as a visiting instructor at the University of São Paulo, and my doctoral dissertation was on the Brazilian student movement of the era. Cardoso was in exile at the time, so I did not meet him, but I did know several of his close friends.

After returning to the United States in 1968, I put aside my interest in Brazil to work on other topics, including a biography of Nobel Prize–winning chemist Linus Pauling, two books of comparative biography, and studies of welfare reform and other policy issues. My political beliefs evolved in much the same way as Cardoso's, in response to world trends.

When Cardoso was elected president of Brazil, I was curious about the relationship between his academic background and his political leadership. Sociologists have found it difficult to bridge the gap between our academic discipline and the real world of public policy. I thought Cardoso's experiences would be instructive in this regard, and I began the research that led to this book.

Fortunately, I was still in contact with my good friend Gabriel Bolaffi, a São Paulo sociologist who has known Cardoso since their student days. Gabriel put me in touch with Eduardo Graeff, one of Cardoso's top advisers, who arranged a brief interview with Cardoso in August 1995. Graeff also helped me to contact a number of other key people, including First Lady Ruth Cardoso.

I found a wealth of material in Cardoso's writings, Senate speeches, press conferences, and published interviews. I used Brigitte Hersant Leoni's book, Fernando Henrique Cardoso: O Brasil do Possível, as a source of some material on Cardoso's family background and youthful experiences.

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