This is not a book of history but an outstanding ethnography that may stir up historical thinking. What if—we might ask our own motley archival sources—we were privy to our ideal informant from the past firsthand, a subaltern at that, and able to craft from that an empathetic experiential account beyond just biographical testimony? This is what Robert Gay, a sociologist of Brazil, has successfully done in his extended conversations with “Bruno”—a low-level Brazilian drug dealer, inmate, and inside expert on the Comando Vermelho (CV), the dominant drug gang at work in Rio de Janeiro's favelas and prison labyrinth over the last three decades.

Historical suggestions abound. Gay lets Bruno open and fill out each chronological recollection of his criminal and carceral past. But at the end of each chapter Gay appends a lucid afterword (i.e., about border smuggling in Brazil, cocaine...

Article PDF first page preview

Article PDF first page preview
You do not currently have access to this content.