This book is a now classic social and economic study of the origins, apogee, and decline of coffee in the Parahyba Valley of South Central Brazil. Local society, the free-planters, professionals, tradesmen, and lower class citizens-and the slaves, are viewed through the routine of plantation life. The author shows how abolition, erosion, and bankruptcy transformed virgin forest into a wasteland of eroded hillsides and abandoned towns, of disillusioned planters and poverty-stricken black freedmen.
"The key theme is actually . . . not coffee, or even Vassouras, but the use and abuse of soil and labor under slavery and its unhappy impact upon society."--Virginia Quarterly
"By narrowing his canvas to one municipio, the author successfully combines sound historical perspective with the microcosmic insights characteristic of contemporary community studies."--Marvin Harris, American Historical Review
"Vassouras remains the single best regional study of Brazil, and a classic analysis of Brazilian slavery and of the society and economies it engendered. It is written with conviction, accuracy, and a control of detail which is always used to address central historical problems. It is among the best works of scholarship on Latin America of the last half century, and it has the great quality of being written in a style that captures the interest of general readers or undergraduates as well as scholars."--Stuart Schwartz, University of Minnesota