CAPTAINS OF BRAZIL by Elaine Srmceau (Bailey & Swinfert 25s.) is well worth reading. A better title might have been chosen, because the book is not merely the story of the 16th century navigators who brought the first settlers from Portugal.
It is also a fascinating outline of the little-known history of the establishment of the Catholic Church in Brazil, After Columbus returned from his first voyage across the Atlantic in 1492, diplomatic relations between Spain (i.e. Castile) and Portugal became strained. 7'wo years later Pope Alexander VI intervened, and decreed that a dividing line 375 leagues west of the Azores should be drawn.
So the Portuguese were left free to colonise the north-east parts of South America, This papal ruling aslo enabled them to settle in India later on.
Miss Sanceau's narrative covers the period between the official discovery of Brazil in 1500, and the death of its great governor, Mem da Sri, in 1572.
The book enables one to understand the problems facing the Catholic Church in Brazil today, which have been stressed by its bishops at the Vatican Council.
There are some delightful illustrations, some in colour, a useful chronology, and an exhaustive index. The style of writing is so vivid that it is often difficult to believe that the story is not fiction.
Peter F. Anson