Books: Fastest Gun in the Northeast

THE VIOLENT LAND by Jorge Amado. 336 pages. Knopf. $5.95.

Instead of cattle barons, there were the great landowners. Instead of the open range, there was the green forest that must be cut and cleared for cacao. But, otherwise, the U.S.'s West and Brazil's Northeast were much alike. Author Amado, 52, is himself a nordestino, and here he again celebrates his brawling frontier city of Ilhéus and its quick-witted, hard-driving people. His big, lusty novel turns on the long land war between Colonel Horacio da Silveira, who is rumored to have sold his soul to the Devil, and the ferocious Badaró...

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