Rio Grande do Sul state in Brazil suffered through one episode of political violence after another in the 1920s. The story of Artur Arão, the son of a minor political chief from Santo Ângelo município, affords a firsthand view of the decade. From 1923, when his father participated in a rebellion against the reelection of Governor Antônio Borges de Medeiros, Arão was a partisan of the anti-government or Maragato forces. A prime example of the extreme violence that swept the state during the Old Republic—he was fourteen when in 1916 he killed his first man—Arão spent the last years of the 1920s avenging the politically motivated slaying of his father. By 1930, when the revolutionary forces triumphed, he had earned a fearsome reputation. The story ends at that point.

Arão told his story to Ludovico Meneghello when the two of them were incarcerated together in 1936. Meneghello tells the story here, based, according to the introduction, on extensive notes that he took at the time. His account has considerable merit for the understanding that it gives of gaúcho political and social life. Beyond that, it is a fascinating story, and the author tells it with a literary flair likely to heighten the reader’s interest.