The author sets out to prove that Dr. Antonio Salema, governor of the captaincies of southern Brazil from 1572 to 1577 was not as cruel as some writers have considered him because of his fight in Cabo Frio against the Tamoyo Indians (September 1575) in which two thousand of them were killed. All our knowledge of this event is based upon a letter written by the Jesuit Father Luís da Fonseca, dated from Bahia, December 17, 1577. The author says that the letter “betrays the truth” (p. 39) but does not present any other document or any kind of evidence to support his statement. Antonio Salema himself wrote a report of his action in Cabo Frio against the Tamoyo, but the document is lost. However, the author’s suggestion that this document could have disappeared “perhaps because it contained disagreeable things as the truth was told” (p. 35) is not acceptable. Possibly we can agree with the author that Salema was not “cruel and barbarian,” considering that it was necessary for the defense of Rio de Janeiro to dispose of the Tamoyo and that that governor was not the only one to destroy great numbers of Indians. Still, we can not accept his conclusions for the lack of better documentation.
The book indicates Salema’s other works in Rio de Janeiro, such as the building of a bridge over the Carioca River. The bibliography cited is very modest—only five books—and is completely inadequate for the study of the subject. Insufficient information is given in the bibliography about authors, titles, places, and dates of publication. Volumes and pages of the original works should be indicated when quotations are made.