Brazil on the ball

10th July 1998 at 01:00
BRAZIL ADVANCED CASE STUDIES. By Paul Guinness. Hodder amp; Stoughton. Pounds 8.99. Tel: 0171 873 6000.

Students and teachers of A-level will find this text outstandingly useful.Teachers will welcome it as an invaluable source of lesson notes, while students will find it a comprehensive reader - clear and attractively presented. The book should raise the standard of examination answers on Brazil significantly in the next few years.

Above all, it is an up-to-date book, firmly based on first-hand investigations. The image of Brazil it develops is of a modern state, one of the world's largest, a potential 21st-century superpower. This image of modernity begins on the front cover, which shows well-managed farmland and modern architecture instead of what has become the near-obligatory picture of Amazonian forest being felled. The book's other illustrations, in economical black-and-white, build up this modern image without ignoring Amazonia, the favelas and other obstinate problems.

The book's approach is thematic. Eight relatively short but closely-packed chapters discuss the major configurations of the country - its population, ecosystems and resources, energy dilemmas, urban development, manufacturing, agriculture and tourism.

Each chapter begins with a scene-setting section which places the topic into its various contexts. Then comes a discussion of the topic itself, with well-chosen and detailed examples.

Much of the wealth of statistical information is in diagrammatic form. Each chapter also includes questions for discussion and further enquiry, helping to underline the chapter's main points.

The book's format makes it easy for teachers to slot in new information, which they will need to do - Brazil is a fast-changing country and the pace of development seems likely to increase.

Patrick Bailey is a former president of the Geographical Association

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