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Portuguese, The
A Modern History
Barry Hatton

published 2015 • 5 1/4" x 8" • 261 pages • b&w illus. • maps
ISBN 9781566568449 • paperback • $15.00

Combining history and anecdote, Barry Hatton paints an intimate portrait of a fascinating country and its people

Portugal is an established member of the European Union, one of the founders of the euro currency and a founding member of NATO. Yet it is an inconspicuous and largely overlooked country on the continent's south-west rim.

Barry Hatton shines a light on this enigmatic corner of Europe by blending historical analysis with entertaining personal anecdotes. He describes the idiosyncrasies that make the Portuguese unique and surveys the eventful path that brought them to where they are today.

In the fifteenth-and sixteenth-century Age of Discovery the Portuguese led Europe out of the Mediterranean into the Atlantic and they brought Asia and Europe together. Evidence of their one-time four-continent empire can still be felt, not least in the Portuguese language which is spoken by more than 220 million people from Brazil, across parts of Africa to Asia.

Analyzing present-day society and culture, The Portuguese also considers the nation's often tumultuous past. The 1755 Lisbon earthquake was one of Europe's greatest natural disasters, strongly influencing continental thought and heralding Portugal's extended decline. The Portuguese also weathered Europe's longest dictatorship under twentieth-century ruler António Salazar. A 1974 military coup, called the Carnation Revolution, placed the Portuguese at the center of Cold War attentions. Portugal's quirky relationship with Spain, and with its oldest ally England, is also scrutinized.

Portugal, which claims Europe's oldest fixed borders, measures just 561 by 218 kilometers. Within that space, however, it offers a patchwork of widely differing and beautiful landscapes. With an easygoing and seductive lifestyle expressed most fully in their love of food, the Portuguese also have an anarchical streak evident in many facets of contemporary life. A veteran journalist and commentator on Portugal, the author gives a thorough overview of his adopted country.

Barry Hatton has been a foreign correspondent in Lisbon for more than twenty years. He has previously co-authored a biography, in Portuguese, of Portugal's first ever woman prime minister, Maria de Lourdes Pintasilgo.

Media Reviews

“This brief history of Portugal attempts to not only illuminate the high points of global exploration and empire that most readers are familiar with but, in an examination of the social history and character of the nation, to discuss the factors that have led to its relative poverty and isolation in relation to modern Europe. Working both chronologically and thematically, the volume examines Portugal's medieval history, the age of exploration, twentieth century dictatorship, a democratic revolution as well as its food, music and defining national characteristics. The work includes several black and white photographs as well as recommendations for further reading. Hatton is a journalist who has worked as a foreign correspondent in Portugal for over twenty years.” —Book News

“...this book, a mixture of history, tour guide, and national character analysis, is clearly a labor of love.”—ForeWord Reviews

“Portugal is often forgotten when talking about Europe's great powers. The Portuguese: A Modern History speaks on the history of this strip of land to the west of Spain and its impact on the modern world. With a language that is widely spoken around the world, the small country has had an eventful history tells the unique history of the country which has included coups, an unusual relationship with its only neighbor in Spain, and its role in the cold war. The Portuguese is a fascinating study of a major yet relatively quiet in international affairs, highly recommended.”—Midwest Book Review

The Portuguese: A Modern History responds to an urgent need for an informed layman’s book on the most updated vision of contemporary Portugal available outside of the tourist guides. It is well-written and accessible to a general audience, with an easy-going, fluid style and some moments of very insightful and academic rigor… The success of the book is in its combination of personal experiences with a host of varied and rich examples from the journalistic, to the literary, critical, and social… There is a love for country—in this case, an adopted homeland—projected throughout the book, tempered always by a realistic sense of self… the beauty of The Portuguese: A Modern History is found in its fluid prose, the acumen of the author’s historical and social perspective, and the personal example of a long-term foreign resident’s individual experience, which gives the book its true and touching uniqueness.”—Robert Simon, Hispania, June 2012

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Of Related Interest:
Portuguese Homestyle Cooking (new revised & updated ed.)
A Traveller's History of Portugal
Portugal (6th)