Patrick Wilcken

Rogue of Rocinha

Nemesis: One Man and the Battle for Rio

By

The Bodley Head 338pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

If Brazil is not for beginners, as the composer Tom Jobim once said, Rio de Janeiro often feels as if requires postdoctoral-level skills to penetrate. Like in mid-century Los Angeles, Rio’s seemingly benevolent ocean setting is undercut by noir tones of moral ambiguity, violence and betrayal. Towering volcanic humps, hidden lagoons and forest-clad mountains, strung together with viaducts and tunnels – Rio’s famous topography itself is suggestive of shifting, multiple realities. No less disorientating are the labyrinthine networks of drug gangs, corrupt police forces and shady politicians that have condemned this great city to years of pointless violence and social upheaval.

Misha Glenny’s Nemesis takes up the challenge through a biography of Antônio Francisco Bonfim Lopes (known as Nem), who ran the drug trade in Rio’s largest favela, Rocinha,

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Neville never shed his sense of being the junior, and perhaps least-deserving Chamberlain.' From the archive, Mic… ,
    • 'The erecting and immediate destruction of a series of straw men rather detracts from what is for the most part an… ,
    • RT : A magnificent demolition job on this "acid laced tirade...unpleasantly self-obsessed...self pitying polemic...book… ,
    • 'Seventy years on, the time we have left to gather such first-hand testimony is running out.' John Keay on the sig… ,
    • The author 'seethes with contemptuous indignation at the shiny junk that an unregulated construction industry dumps… ,
    • 'The physical courage he demonstrated as a young man [...] gave way to intellectual power; radical thought, gifted… ,
    • 'While Jane Austen didn’t perhaps achieve the full recognition that she deserved in her lifetime, even then she out… ,