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Featured Author

J.J. Hespeler-Boultbee
J.J. Hespeler-Boultbee
Architecture & Art Historian
Retired Journalist

Books by J.J. Hespeler-Boultbee

An Empire Teeters - Foray into Portugal's Fascism
A Journalist Takes Notes in Old Luso Colonial Africa -
Angola, Mocambique & Guine Bissau Summer & Fall 1963

by J. J. Hespeler-Boultbee


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An Empire Teeters - Foray into Portugal's Fascism: A Journalist Takes Notes in Old Luso Colonial Africa - Angola, Mocambique & Guine Bissau Summer & Fall 1963

An Empire Teeters - Foray into Portugal's Fascism is the first-hand account of a journalist who travelled to and through Angola, Moçambique and Portuguese Guiné (Guiné-Bissau after 1975) in the summer and fall of 1963, when they were still Portuguese colonial possessions - and fighting for their independence. Over the centuries little bits of Portugal's empire had been hacked off by other powers, but the agonizing conflict that signalled the coming collapse of Portugal's hold on her African colonies began in 1961 with the outbreak of war in Angola and the start of hostilities in what later became Guiné-Bissau. It flared in Moçambique in 1964. By the end of 1975 Portugal's entire empire lay in tatters.

Part travelogue, with arresting descriptions of encounters with majestic elephants and single-minded lions, it is also a perceptive historical/political analysis. We learn of Portugal under the fascist Salazar regime with its unsavoury secret police, PIDE, and its co-opting of citizenry as informers and spies. We meet opositionistas – those who worked for the dictator's overthrow - and, everywhere, 'minders' who were PIDE operatives intended to ensure that snooping journalists did not stray too far away on their own and only reported the approved official version of what they saw.

Some scenes could be straight out of Our Man in Havana. Along the way the author introduces us to a cast of unforgettable characters, each of whom might deserve a book of their own: the pompous and pedantic Portuguese consul in Canada, the wartime British intelligence agent turned Times of London expert on matters Luso, the Canadian mission doctors and educators doing formidable work in Angola, ever watchful of those who watched them, the minder who turned out to be an opositionista bomb maker, and the aristocrat's aristocrat who befriends the author, gets him out of a nasty bind and finagles an important interview necessarily conducted in handcuffs.

In all, An Empire Teeters - Foray into Portugal's Fascism is a tale told by a born raconteur, full of revealing anecdote and gentle humour that presents an entertaining, educational and illuminating read.

About the Author

The introduction was undoubtedly rough, but the land of Portugal - her people, history and ancient culture - caught the imagination of Canadian journalist and writer J.J. Hespeler-Boultbee during his journey there (and to her colonies) in 1963. He returned many times to cover the disintegration of Portugal's fascism, leading to the 'Carnation Revolution' of 1974 and the collapse of Portugal's vaunted 'Estado Novo.' Following the adventures related in the pages of An Empire Teeters - Foray into Portugal's Fascism he decided he would never know the country well unless he stayed - so that is what he did. Today he lives with his wife in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, with Portugal and Africa very much part of his present.

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An Empire Teeters - Foray into Portugal's Fascism

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Worldwide release: September 2020

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