Olinda Restaurada is not a narrative history repeating an oft-told tale, but an analytical discussion of certain key factors—military, economic, and social—on all of which the author has something new and valid to say. Although the archival documentation and published sources which he uses have been tapped by previous writers, he has come to them with fresh insights and he extracts new information therefrom. He has also integrated the theme in the broader context of the period by his familiarity with the works of N. W. Posthumus (1946-65), Fernand Braudel (1957, 1966), Frédéric Mauro (1960, 1970), and Geoffery Parker (1972). He draws an illuminating contrast between the ineffective Iberian high-command in what he terms the “war of resistance” in the sixteen-thirties, and the more supple Luso-Brazilian triumvirate in the successful “war of restoration” in 1645-54. He gives the best account to date of the financing of this latter stage on the Luso-Brazilian side, demonstrating clearly that it was the taxation levied on Brazilian sugar which provided the principal sinews. The brunt of this high taxation was borne by the hard-pressed inhabitants of Pernambuco, but it was levied in such a way that it aroused less discontent than the lighter measures imposed to finance the war of resistance in the 1630s. The economic crisis of Netherlands Brazil in 1643-45 and its reflection in the fall of the West India Company shares on the Amsterdam Exchange are convincingly analyzed against the background of the seventeenth-century economic crisis. The problems connected with arming, feeding, and clothing the ragged Luso-Brazilian soldiery in 1645-54, never adequately tackled by the penurious Lusitanian Crown, were largely left to local initiative, as the author clearly demonstrates.

Not the least interesting chapter of the book is the last, “A Querela dos Engenhos,” where the author analyzes the conflict of interest between the original proprietors of the sugar plantations confiscated by the Dutch, most of whom had retired to Bahia in 1637-38, and the Luso-Brazilians who had bought them from the WIC and who refused to give them up when the war was over. Both sides had a good legal case, and both had powerful lobbyists at the Court of Lisbon, so a final solution was only reached in the 1670s. Other new points brought out by the author include the proof that the Luso-Brazilian high command continued to trade clandestinely with the Dutch at Recife; and the composition of the “kitchen-cabinet” that dissuaded King John IV from succumbing to the “peace at any price” policy warmly advocated by Padre Antonio Vieira S.J., and supported by several councillors of state. This book presupposes in the reader some knowledge of the narrative history of the Iliada Pernambucana; but for those who are thus equipped, it is undoubtedly the most satisfying and illuminating work in this field.