Non-Brazilianists can be forgiven for not recognizing the name of Heráclito Fontoura Sobral Pinto. This celebrated civil-liberties lawyer and prominent Catholic intellectual played a noteworthy, albeit minor, role in Brazilian political history. He was one of the most consistent and effective voices to speak out against Brazil’s two twentieth-century dictatorships: the Estado Novo of 1937– 45 and the military government of 1964–85. This work is the first of a projected two-volume biography and covers Sobral Pinto’s career up to 1945. A second volume on the remainder of his career will complete the coverage.

Sobral Pinto’s most famous pre-1945 client was Luiz Carlos Prestes, the long- time leader of the Brazilian Communist Party. Prestes was imprisoned in 1936 after the failed Communist rebellion of 1935 until almost the end of Getúlio Vargas’s dictatorship. Sobral Pinto succeeded in maintaining access to Prestes when many other prisoners were forbidden outside contact. In the...

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