Neill Lochery’s new history of modern Portugal starts with the military coup of 25 April 1974. The coup overthrew the long-standing dictatorial regime, known as the Portuguese New State, which António de Oliveira Salazar had established in 1932 and ruled with an iron hand until he was incapacitated by a brain haemorrhage in 1968. Salazar, who lived on for another two years, was succeeded by Marcelo Caetano, his deputy for many years. The young officers who carried out the coup against Caetano were deeply frustrated by the seemingly endless wars they were fighting in the Portuguese colonies of Angola, Mozambique and Guinea (now Guinea-Bissau), with no possible victory in sight. They were intent on ending these conflicts and withdrawing as soon as possible the (largely conscript) Portuguese army that was then serving in Africa. They also aimed to establish a democratic and constitutional republican regime in Portugal, and were committed to a timetable of free elections, to freedom of the press and free expression, and to the immediate abolition of the Salazarist secret police and censorship.
Follow Literary Review on Twitter
This 'jaunty narrative raises fundamental questions about the role of popular history. Should this just be a matter of telling tales, as the general public often seems to think?'
@DrLRoach weighs up Charles Spencer's account of the White Ship Disaster.
'Amis clearly belongs to the do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do school of pedagogy. More or less everything he says is demonstrably contradicted by elements of his own work, be they here or elsewhere.'
'The bar is set high at the outset, and readers are primed to wonder if Mikhail can make his case.'
Does Alan Mikhail's new life of the Sultan Selim I really overturn 'shibboleths that have held sway for a millennium'? Caroline Finkel investigates.