In his Memórias the late Marshal Mascarenhas de Moraes records his career in generous detail, emphasizing the exploits of the Brazilian Expeditionary Force, which he commanded in the Italian campaign of World War II. Not only is half of the book devoted to this campaign, but the final section chronicles many of the honors and special commissions which he later received in recognition of his wartime services. After all, this was the first time since the Paraguayan War, some seventy-five years earlier, that elements of the Brazilian army had fought abroad. The Memórias supplement the Marshal’s earlier A FEB pelo seu comandante (São Paulo, 1947), and both books together serve as valuable sources on the campaign.

Through his Memórias Marshal Mascarenhas de Moraes emerges as a stern, conscientious, disciplined, apparently humorless career officer, another Rio-Grandense who was consciously influenced in his choice of career by the military tradition of his state. During his long career he served in various regions of Brazil, including five years in Matto Grosso and the Amazon, working with the mixed boundary commission to determine the Bolivian-Brazilian frontier. No doubt his experiences in the interior contributed to a heightened sense of nationalism and to an enlarged view of the role and sacrifices of the Brazilian army.

Although an advocate of technical training and obedience, rather than a politically active officer, Marshal Mascarenhas de Moraes expressed opinions on a variety of subjects. Like some old veterans of the Paraguayan War he opposed Positivist influence in the army as pedantic and pacifist, and he expressed disdain for the “pretentious emphasis on academic degrees at the military institutes” (p. 51) at the turn of the century, as well as for the revolts in these schools. Neither did he demonstrate sympathy for the Tenente movement of the 1920s. Like many of his predecessors he opposed what he considered efforts by civilians to use the army for political purposes. He regretted that the armed forces were divided in October 1930 and rejoiced to see them reunited in March 1964. The marshal provides a good example of the stem military men who claimed they always respected law and authority and who supported Castelo Branco.

While at times the Memórias read like a greatly expanded military dossier, they comprise one of the relatively few sets of extensive memoirs by leading generals in the twentieth century. (See also the somewhat more vivid and political memoirs by one of Mascarenhas de Moraes’ classmates, Bertoldo Klinger, Parada e desfile duma vida de voluntârio do Brazil na primeira metade do século. Rio de Janeiro, 1958). These Memórias can provide insights into the background, past activities, and thinking of key elements in the Brazilian army during the twentieth century.