Brazillionaires by Alex Cuadros
Wealth, Power, Decadence, and Hope in an American Country

75%

6 Critic Reviews

The rise and fall of Batista is dramatically rendered in “Brazillionaires,” Alex Cuadros’s enjoyable, deeply reported account of Brazil’s outsize collection of tycoons.
-NY Times

Synopsis

For readers of Michael Lewis comes an engrossing tale of a country’s spectacular rise and fall, intertwined with the story of Brazil’s wealthiest citizen, Eike Batista—a universal story of hubris and tragedy that uncovers the deeper meaning of this era of billionaires.

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE FINANCIAL TIMES

When Bloomberg News invited the young American journalist Alex Cuadros to report on Brazil’s emerging class of billionaires at the height of the historic Brazilian boom, he was poised to cover two of the biggest business stories of our time: how the giants of the developing world were triumphantly taking their place at the center of global capitalism, and how wealth inequality was changing societies everywhere. The billionaires of Brazil and their massive fortunes resided at the very top of their country’s economic pyramid, and whether they quietly accumulated exceptional power or extravagantly displayed their decadence, they formed a potent microcosm of the world’s richest .001 percent.

Eike Batista, a flamboyant and charismatic evangelist for the country’s new gospel of wealth, epitomized much of this rarefied sphere: In 2012, Batista ranked as the eighth-richest person in the world, was famous for his marriage to a beauty queen, and was a fixture in the Brazilian press. His constantly repeated ambition was to become the world’s richest man and to bring Brazil along with him to the top.

But by 2015, Batista was bankrupt, his son Thor had been indicted for manslaughter, and Brazil—its president facing impeachment, its provinces combating an epidemic, and its business and political class torn apart by scandal—had become a cautionary tale of a country run aground by its elites.

Over the four years Cuadros was on the billionaire beat, he reported on media moguls and televangelists, energy barons and shadowy figures from the years of military dictatorship, soy barons who lived on the outskirts of the Amazon, and new-economy billionaires spinning money from speculation. He learned just how deeply they all reached into Brazilian life. They held sway over the economy, government, media, and stewardship of the environment; they determined the spiritual fates and populated the imaginations of their countrymen. Cuadros’s zealous reporting takes us from penthouses to courtrooms, from favelas to extravagant art fairs, from scenes of unimaginable wealth to desperate, massive street protests. Within a business narrative that deftly explains and dramatizes the volatility of the global economy, Cuadros offers us literary journalism with a grand sweep.

Praise for Brazillionaires

“A wild, richly reported tale about Brazil’s recent economic rise and fall, and some of the biggest, most colorful characters in business in Brazil who now have a global reach. . . . Cuadros’s story really takes off when he focuses on Eike Batista, an over-the-top one-time billionaire who became the country’s corporate mascot, only to go bankrupt in a dramatic unraveling.”—Andrew Ross Sorkin, the New York Times
 
“In this excellent book [Cuadros] has managed to use billionaires to illuminate the lives of both rich and poor Brazilians, and all those in between.”—The Economist

Brazillionaires [is] journalist Alex Cuadros’s compelling tale of Brazil’s superrich, which deftly weaves lurid soap opera with high finance and outrageous political skullduggery. . . . If Brazil sometimes comes across as a circus in this compelling, thoroughly researched account, it is because it can be just that.”—The Wall Street Journal
 

About Alex Cuadros

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After getting his degree at Sarah Lawrence College and learning Spanish in Madrid, ALEX CUADROS worked for a while in book publishing and then moved to Bogotá to write. He freelanced for Slate, The Nation, Mother Jones, The San Francisco Chronicle before going to work for Bloomberg, who sent him to São Paulo in 2010, where he’s lived since.
Author Residence: SÃo Paulo
Author Hometown: Albuquerque
 
Published July 12, 2016 by Spiegel & Grau. 368 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Business & Economics, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Brazillionaires
All: 6 | Positive: 5 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Above average
on May 04 2016

On the trail of enormous wealth in Brazil...Well-rounded and -researched portraits of the staggering chasm between rich and poor in Brazil.

Read Full Review of Brazillionaires: Wealth, Powe... | See more reviews from Kirkus

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Eduardo Porter on Jul 22 2016

The rise and fall of Batista is dramatically rendered in “Brazillionaires,” Alex Cuadros’s enjoyable, deeply reported account of Brazil’s outsize collection of tycoons.

Read Full Review of Brazillionaires: Wealth, Powe... | See more reviews from NY Times

Financial Times

Above average
Reviewed by John Paul Rathbone on Jul 18 2016

Cuadros knows the country too well to believe Lava Jato will change affairs for good. His affectionate panorama of its wealth, power and patronage shows why: almost everyone is implicated. “Brazil is not for beginners,” as Tom Jobim, the composer, once warned. But Brazillionaires is a useful and entertaining place to start.

Read Full Review of Brazillionaires: Wealth, Powe... | See more reviews from Financial Times

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Eduardo Porter on Jul 22 2016

This reporting provides the book’s backbone. But “Brazillionaires” offers more than a flat collection of billionaire tales. Cuadros shrewdly presents his collage of immense wealth against an underlying background of corruption.

Read Full Review of Brazillionaires: Wealth, Powe... | See more reviews from NY Times

Globe and Mail

Good
Reviewed by Stephanie Nolen on Jul 22 2016

Cuadros may have been prescient in that Brazil’s crisis has made his book critical reading rather than irrelevant. The real beneficiary however is his reader – he’s just the right mix of knowledgeable insider, and arch, critical outsider, and Brazillionaires is a welcome addition...

Read Full Review of Brazillionaires: Wealth, Powe... | See more reviews from Globe and Mail

The Economist

Good
on Jun 11 2016

Poor people seemed more interesting. In this excellent book he has managed to use billionaires to illuminate the lives of both rich and poor Brazilians, and all those in between.

Read Full Review of Brazillionaires: Wealth, Powe... | See more reviews from The Economist

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