Cliff Welch takes on a worthy and challenging topic in The Seed Was Planted. He attempts to write the history of rural labor in São Paulo during a formative period in the state’s and nation’s industrial relations system. Moreover, he has chosen a state, which, despite its massive agricultural output, is more studied for its industrial than rural workers when questions of labor are addressed. Welch has two provocative theses in the book: first, that recent rural protests throughout Brazil can trace their genesis back to São Paulo in the 1924–64 period; and, second, that the Brazilian Communist Party (PCB) was the vanguard of rural organizing and protest in the period studied and is thus the progenitor of recent rural activism by the Workers Party (PT).

Welch has set himself a difficult task. Because there is so little written on rural labor movements in Brazil, he was forced to...

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