George Matthews was struggling. An ex-Confederate medical doctor from Alabama, Matthews and his family fled the “Yankee oppression” of the Reconstruction South for the interior of São Paulo State, Brazil, hoping to grow cotton in the “pleasing” familiarity of a patriarchal, slaveholding society (156). What Matthews found was not what he expected. As cotton prices fell and he struggled to make ends meet, he was appalled to find himself the social inferior of a wealthy African-descended coffee planter, who generously offered him the opportunity to serve as his personal doctor. More distressingly, he arrived just in time to witness “a new birth of capitalism” in the state, one based not on slavery but on its abolition, which ultimately created an “agroindustrial order that no slave society had ever matched” (252, 258). The experience of Matthews, with its ironic twists of expectation and reality, is typical of Roberto Saba's fascinating American...

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