This is not so much a book about pirates or smugglers, or even patriots—although all appear—as it is about national divergence. Intrigued by the different paths taken by the early United States and its largest southern neighbor, Brazil, Tyson Reeder sets out to show what these colonies turned nations had in common and how they differed in the decades on either side of the year 1800. Political and commercial leaders of the fledgling US, Reeder shows, tended to imagine Latin American independence as the creation of sister republics, united in their embrace of free trade and rejection of empire. What a surprise, then, to see Brazil become the seat of the Portuguese empire in 1808, reaffirmed in 1822 as an independent empire, and still ruled by the House of Braganza. Mexico traced a similar, imperial path, and monarchist urges resurged throughout the hemisphere. How could this seeming anomaly be sorted?....

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