Sodré, Nelson Werneck (1911–1999)

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Sodré, Nelson Werneck (1911–1999)

Nelson Werneck Sodré (b. 27 April 1911; d. 13 January 1999), Brazilian army officer, historian, and intellectual. Son of a lawyer-businessman, Sodré, a native of Rio de Janeiro, attended the Colegio Militar (1924–1930) and the Escola Militar in Rio de Janeiro (1931–1934). He was a career army officer until his retirement in 1961. He was a professor of military history at the Escola do Estado Maior do Exército (Army General Staff School) from 1948 to 1950. In 1955 and 1956 Sodré was editorial editor at the center-left Rio newspaper Última Hora. In 1954 he became chairman of the history department at the Instituto Superior de Estudos Brasileiros (ISEB), a position he held until the military government closed the ISEB in the immediate aftermath of the coup in 1964. Beginning in 1964 he lived in Rio de Janeiro, devoting himself to intellectual pursuits.

Sodré participated in the Brazilian nationalist movement of the 1950s and early 1960s. During the 1950s he was influential in the Military Club, a group that generally sought to represent the interests of army officers, and played a role in the successful campaign to nationalize Brazilian oil. He also participated in ISEB's efforts to articulate a "national-developmentalist" ideology, which sought to overcome Brazil's colonial economic structure through national capitalist development.

Though never a political militant, Sodré was a lifelong Marxist, and in addition to his other works, he wrote texts on Marxist theory. He was imprisoned for several months after the coup of 1964 and for a time thereafter was prohibited from public speaking and writing in the press. In 1995, he gave the National Library of Brazil a collection of many of his personal documents, including correspondence with historian Caio Prado, Jr. and Cuban president Fidel Castro.

See alsoBrazil, Organizations: Advanced Institute of Brazilian Studies (ISEB); Nationalism.


Sodré's works include Formação da sociedade brasileira (1944); História da burguesia brasileira (1964); História militar do Brasil (1965); História da imprensa no Brasil (1966); Memorias de um soldado (1967); Memorias de um escritor (1970); Síntese de história da cultura brasileira (1970); Que se dove ler para conhecer o Brasil (1973); Formação histórica do Brasil, 9th ed. (1976); História da história nova (1986), a history of ISEB. See also E. Bradford Burns, Nationalism in Brazil: A Historical Survey (1968); and Simon Schwartzman, ed., O pensamento nacionalista e os "Cadernos de Nosso Tempo" (1981).

Additional Bibliography

Andrade, Manuel Correia de, and Maria Cecília Cysneiros. Redescobrindo o Brasil seminário nacional. Olinda, Brazil: Editora Livro Rápido, 2006.

Cunha, Paulo Ribero da, and Fátima Cabral. Nelson Werneck Sodré: Entre o sabre e a pena. São Paulo: Editora UNESP, 2006.

Toledo, Caio Navarro de. Intelectuais e política no Brasil: A experiencia do ISEB. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Revan, 2005.

                                            Brian Owensby