PETER ROBB NEATLY disarms any critics of his Brazilian travelogue with his choice of subtitle. ‘You can put anything into a book of omissions,’ reads the epigraph by the nineteenth-century Brazilian novelist Machado de Assis. ‘Reading one of these never worries me at all. What I do when I get to the end is close my eyes and think of all the things I didn’t find in it. So many great ideas come to me then, really deep thoughts.’ There are many things you won’t find in this book – nothing on samba or music in general, precious little on voodoo, and zilch on the Amazon. But to be fair to the author, Brazil is a vast country, cut off &m the rest of Latin America by a different language and culture – it is a difficult nut to crack. As Robb remarks in the opening chapter, ‘for the world there was something dispersive in Brazil’s hugeness, something that made it hard to focus on’.