Portugal: Volunteer of Solitude

He was an unlikely dictator, a donnish, reclusive man with sharp eyes and a high-pitched voice who shunned publicity, made few speeches or public appearances, and rarely traveled outside his own country. "One cannot entertain the crowd and govern them all at the same time," he was fond of saying. "The state does not pay me to lead a social life." He preferred to cloister himself with his books and papers in his high-walled home behind the National Assembly in Lisbon. He never married.

Almost two years ago, he suffered a stroke that...

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