His name was Antonio, but they would call him Nem. From the infamous favela of Rocinha in Rio, he was a hardworking young father forced to make a decision that would turn his world upside down.
Nemesis is the story of an ordinary man who became the king of the largest slum in Rio, the head of a drug cartel and perhaps Brazil’s most wanted criminal. A man who tried to bring welfare and justice to a playground of gang culture and destitution while everyone around him drew guns and partied. It’s a captivating tale of gold hunters and evangelical pastors, bent police and rich-kid addicts, quixotic politicians and drug lords with maths degrees.
Spanning rainforests and high-security prisons, filthy slums and glittering shopping malls, this is also the story of how change came to Brazil. Of a country’s journey into the global spotlight and the battle for the beautiful but damned city of Rio as it struggles to break free from a tangled web of corruption, violence, drugs and poverty. With Nem at its centre, locked in a fight for his country’s future.
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The life of a gangster
Yes! Although initially I did find Glenny's cockney accents put on the gangsters a bit irritating. This is supposed to be Brazil, not the East End! Anyway that minor criticism aside, I found the narration very clear and well read throughout.
I'm not sure I actually had a favourite character exactly. I didn't find myself completing warming to Nem, the main charachter. He is after all a drug trafficker and a womaniser, but what does shine through about him is that he is/was an exceptional leader.
Although it ended sadly, I enjoyed the part about Nem's pet monkey and how the monkey would sit on Nem's shoulder and had a little hat!
I was moved especially by the beginning when you see a young newly married man struggling to afford to pay for the health care of his sick daughter, living in a slum, and not sure where to turn. The point where a man named Antonio begins his journey from respectable citizen to Don of the Hill was quite emotive, what would any of us do in such a situation?
This is an interesting book. I felt at times like I was actually there in Rocinha, the favela Nem was don of. Misha Glenny's descriptions of the place are very good. It is a very candid history of a place and a leader. It doesn't shout the praises of Nem nor point out all that is bad about him. It is very balanced and fair account in that regard. However, I didn't find myself being blown away by this book, or shocked in anyway. It is what it is, the story of a gangster in a slum in Rio De Janeiro. Sometimes I felt a bit bored with the pointless violence and drug pushing, however, sometimes it felt as entertaining as if I where watching a hollywood action movie! I am also now a bit more aware of the colourful history of Brazilian politics, which I suppose I can count as another positive.
A great Audiobook!
- Mr Brian Gould