Getúlio Vargas’s diary

Revolutionary leader, dictator, President,
Getúlio Vargas is the greatest Brazilian politician of this century. He
lead the country through Civil War and changes that shaped modern
Brazil. Now, the world has a chance to know what this charismatic
character was thinking while building a country by fire and kind words.

For 12 years, between 1930 and 1942, Getúlio
Dornelles Vargas, who led Brazil for 18 years first as President
brought by a military coup and then as an elected President made notes
at the end of the day about the main political events, but also about
his personal thoughts and extramarital affairs. There was a suspicion
that this diary existed, but not even the president’s most
intimatefriends knew for sure. Darci Vargas, Getúlios’s wife, died in
1968 without knowing about it.

It was only at the end of the `70s that a very close
aide to Vargas gave Alzira do Amaral Peixoto, the president’s daughter,
the collection of notebooks containing the notes handwritten in pencil.
Celina Vargas do Amaral Peixoto, a social scientist who is the
granddaughter of Getúlio and the daughter of Alzira, was the one who
decided to publish the material. It took her and a group of experts at
the Fundaçăo Getúlio Vargas (FGV) two and a half years to check names
and facts and add notes that shed light on events that happened half a
century ago.

Just published by the Getúlio Vargas Foundation on a
co-edition basis with Siciliano Publishers, this two-volume book,
richly illustrated with photographs and containing over 1,200 pages, is
an essential contribution to the understanding of Brazilian history in
the 20th century. President of Brazil from 1930 to 1945 and from 1951
to 1954, when he inexplicably took his life, Getúlio Vargas is
identified with the major political, social and economic changes that
took place in the country after 1930.

In his diary, written between October 3, 1930 and
September 27, 1942, this century’s most important and influential
Brazilian politician expounds, for the first time, his particular view
of a 12-year period in contemporary Brazilian history, which was
characterized by significant events, from a revolution to the Second
World War, passing through a coup d’état that he led in 1937.

Far from being simply a facsimile of the Getúlio
Vargas’ diary, the book has been designed to provide a clear and
coherent focus on the memories of a man who has played a strategic and
definitive role in Brazil. The project of publishing a book from
manuscripts, consisting of 13 papers, began in 1993 and represented a
vast, complex and exciting challenge.

During thirty months, the project has been conducted
by researchers of the FGV Documentation and Research Centre on
Brazilian Contemporary History – CPDOC, who carefully organized the
unpublished archival material, private documents and recorded oral
testimonies. The result is a vivid narrative of individuals, peoples,
parties, movements, events, decisions and conflicts that have shaped
the political society over those decades.

These volumes are both a reference work and a book to
be read for enjoyment, helping to understand the day-by-day functioning
of a government, who Getúlio Vargas really was, his individual
consciousness and public trajectory, and all that has come from his
pen. Undoubtedly unique, this book reveals many aspects of this yet
under-researched period of Brazilian history, develops a framework for
understanding the radical changes which have occurred during those
years and offers a new perspective on the diversity of historical
situations that have arisen in the Brazilian society.

To the diary, the editors have added an appendix of
203 pages, with a comprehensive bibliography, extensive biographic
references and a subject index containing several hundred suggestions
for further reading. Getúlio Vargas: Diário contributes in a
remarkable way to the reconstruction of a period, as a testimony to the
power both of ideas and of personality in movements of the past. His
unexpurgated account will be welcomed by all those interested in
Brazilian history.


If everyday everybody would write down in a notebook
their judgements, thoughts, motives for action and the main occurrences
in which they took part, many, to whom a singular fate has prevented
from this, would be able to equal the marvelous fantasies described in
the adventure books from writers with the most rich imaginative
fantasy. Real life apparent prosaism is much more interesting than it
seems to be. I was reminded that, if I would make daily faithful and
sincere notes, like somebody who would write only for himself and not
for the public, I would have then a large repository of facts to probe
and a continuous lesson of experience to consult.

I was reminded of this today, day of the Revolution.
All the arrangements made, all the calls made. It certainly will be
today at 5 PM. What the uncertain future will reserve for us in this
adventurous undertaking.? I had a quiet lunch with my family and went
for a ping-pong match with my wife as I usually do every day. At 4 PM
I’ve finished this note. Four thirty. The time comes. I feel peaceful
in spirit, as someone who plays a decisive move because he couldn’t
find another honorable solution. My fate doesn’t matter, but it does
the responsibility of an act which decides about the fate of the
collectivity. Won’t I have a big disappointment afterwards? And if we
lose? I will be labeled as the responsible afterwards, for spite, for
ambition, who knows? I feel that only life’s sacrifice can redeem the
mistake of a failure. The movement has started. A live volley of
rifleshots and machine guns.” (Rio de Janeiro, October 3, 1930)

Orders to:

Fundaçăo Getúlio Vargas/Editora

Praia de Botafogo, 190 – 6. andar

22.253-900, Rio de Janeiro, RJ – Brazil

Fax: (021) 551-0948 and 551-7801


Price: US$ 100,00, including airmail postage

Payment through check made payable to the order of
Fundaçăo Getúlio Vargas or credit card (please inform number and
expiration date).

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