In The Tribute of Blood Peter M. Beattie analyzes the transformation of army recruitment and service in Brazil between 1864 and 1945, using this history of common soldiers to examine nation building and the social history of Latin America's largest nation.
Tracing the army's reliance on coercive recruitment to fill its lower ranks, Beattie shows how enlisted service became associated with criminality, perversion, and dishonor, as nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Brazilian officials rounded up the "dishonorable" poor-including petty criminals, vagrants, and "sodomites"-and forced them to serve as soldiers.
Beattie looks through sociological, anthropological, and historical lenses to analyze archival sources such as court-martial cases, parliamentary debates, published reports, and the memoirs and correspondence of soldiers and officers.
Combining these materials with a colorful array of less traditional sources-such as song lyrics, slang, grammatical evidence, and tattoo analysis-he reveals how the need to reform military recruitment with a conscription lottery became increasingly apparent in the wake of the Paraguayan War of 1865-1870 and again during World War I. Because this crucial reform required more than changing the army's institutional roles and the conditions of service, The Tribute of Blood is ultimately the story of how entrenched conceptions of manhood, honor, race, citizenship, and nation were transformed throughout Brazil. Those interested in social, military, and South American history, state building and national identity, and the sociology of the poor will be enriched by this pathbreaking study.