In this commentary I shall challenge the still-influential notion that Brazilian politics is haunted by the phantom of Latin American populism, that illiterate and poor masses are waiting for a savior. In Brazil such a distortion has served to condemn the postwar period as populist—that is, as an example of flawed class struggle. John French's contributions to these questions are noteworthy, as a result of “rigorous detective work” (363), over the last forty years, looking the ABC metalworkers in the eyes. His focus this time around, however, is on only one individual, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who founded the Workers’ Party (PT) in 1980 and was twice president of Brazil (2003–11). Lula is also a man of several extraordinary lives in one. He was an illiterate brute's son, an apprentice, a machinist, a unionist, a party leader, and a statesman. He has also been an incarcerated unionist and, recently,...

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