Excellence in Scholarship and Learning


A Present Past

The Brazilian Military Dictatorship and the 1964 Coup


Rodrigo Patto Sá Motta is Titular Professor at the Federal University of Minas Gerais. He has been a visiting professor at various universities (among them Université Paris III – Sorbonne Nouvelle) and is former president of the Brazilian National Association of History (ANPUH). Author of On guard against the red menace: Anticommunism in Brazil (Sussex Academic Press, 2020).

The events related to the 1964 coup and the military dictatorship (1964-85) have become common currency in the recent public debate in Brazil. The issue is especially strategic to the extreme right- wing groups surrounding Jair Bolsonaro, the president elected in 2018. For them, the 1964 coup is cherished and celebrated, marking defeat of the left and the beginning of a political regime oriented towards ‘order and progress’. The political project built around Bolsonaro is an attempt to impose a distorted and Manichean view of recent history, both by discourse and attempts of censorship. According to that view, 1964 was not a coup d’état, but a ‘revolution’ that saved Brazilians from communism. In Brazil, history is being manipulated to convince people that the military were good rulers, an image that connects to the present authoritarian (albeit elected) government supported by the Armed Forces. Right-wingers, nostalgic for the 1960s dictatorship, promote initiatives to discredit academic researchers and historians who disagree with their mind set. 

A Present Past offers a well-founded approach to the history of the military dictatorship. Chapters are dedicated to analysing the most controversial topics of the current debate. The primary aim is to disseminate knowledge about the prevailing dictatorship circumstances, with a firm eye on how the past military regime impacts on the present. The purpose is to prevent peddlers of fake news and the ultra-right negationists from winning over the Brazilian public with their authoritarian versions of history. In sum, this is a book committed to democracy. This commitment does not imply any disrespect for the academy, or for opposing points of view, but at its heart it defends historiography via scientific method to counter authoritarian imposition of a historical narrative that supports dictatorship in any form and its leaders, political and military, remaining in power through coercion.

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-78976-157-3
Paperback Price: £45 / $64.95
Release Date: September 2022
Page Extent / Format: 240 pp. 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: No 


Content to follow

Review Quotes to Follow

Books can be ordered by phone or online

Ordering in the UK, Europe, Asia, Australasia, South America and Rest of the World

Gazelle Book Services
Direct sales tel.: +44 (0)1524 528500; email:
Web ordering:

Ordering in the United States and Canada
Independent Publishers Group (IPG)
Direct sales tel.: (800) 888-4741
Web ordering:

Bookseller Ordering
Information is provided under the Resources tab

eBook Ordering
e-Book type availability can be sourced via by book title. Kindle availability is via Amazon .com and sites.