Buy Now:

Barnes & Noble
Books a Million
Simon & Schuster
Google Play

In the tradition of Detroit: An American Autopsy and Maximum City comes a deeply reported and beautifully written biography of Rio de Janeiro from prizewinning journalist Juliana Barbassa.

Barbassa moved a great deal throughout her life, but Brazil was always home. After twenty-one years abroad, she returned to find that Rio de Janeiro, a city once ravaged by inflation, drug wars, corrupt leaders, and dying neighborhoods, was on the precipice of major change.

Rio has always aspired to the pantheon of global capitals. Under the spotlight of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games it seems that its moment has come. But in order to prepare itself for the world stage, Rio must vanquish the entrenched problems that Barbassa recalls from her childhood. Turning this beautiful but deeply flawed place into a predictable, pristine showcase of the best that Brazil has to offer in just a few years is a tall order—and with the whole world watching, the stakes couldn’t be higher.


“In Barbassa’s fascinating new book, easy assumptions are peeled back to expose a place struggling to define its present and its future.”



“An important book” … “of interest to anyone seeking to understand the impact the enormous global event is having on this chaotic, tropical city of 6 million.”

Washington Post


One of the Boston Globe’s “Best Books of 2015

Read an Excerpt

Watch the Trailer

In ‘Dancing with the Devil in the City of God’, award-winning journalist, author, and Brazil native Juliana Barbassa introduces readers to Rio de Janeiro, a beautiful but deeply flawed city of extremes. Once ravaged by inflation, drugs, and crime, today Rio is on the precipice of a major change—and with the whole world watching as the 2016 Summer Olympics approach, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

Official Book Website

Praise for Dancing with the Devil in the City of God

Her interviews with police, prostitutes, drug dealers, ecologists, businesspeople, academics, movers and shakers, and the moved and shaken offer a fascinating look at the people who live in and aspire to change one of the world’s most impressive cities.
Booklist, (starred review)
A powerful work of reportage. Eloquent, heartfelt, and thorough, Barbassa is a brilliant guide to the underside of Brazil’s showcase city. If you want to understand twenty-first-century Rio de Janeiro, read this book.
Alex Bellos, author of Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life
In a book that’s akin to Charlie LeDuff’s Detriot, Barbassa combines history and personal interviews in an informative and engaging work, showing a nation whose people desire a better country but are at odds with the government and even themselves at the best way to achieve that result.
Library Journal, view full review
A timely tour-de-force . . . Drawing on the city’s history, geography, social structure, culture, political intrigues, and economic disparities, Barbassa has written a multidisciplinary masterpiece. This splendid and accessible narrative is mustreading not just for the journalists, spectators, and athletes who will be in Rio for the Olympic Games, but for anyone who has visited Rio—or not—and has been caught up in the magnetic attraction of this spectacular and complicated city.
Dr. Robert Maguire, director of the Brazil Initiative at the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University
Returning to Rio after years abroad, Juliana Barbassa takes the reader on a journey of urban exploration beyond the tourist clichés of Ipanema and Carnaval. Her book seamlessly melds deep reporting with nuanced memoir, providing an insider’s guide to a global city of immense energy, appetites, heartbreak, and danger. To understand Rio’s prospects for the twenty-first century, come with Barbassa on her voyage of inquiry and rediscovery. It’s a trip worth taking. I savored every moment.
Ambassador Derek Shearer, director of the McKinnon Center for Global Affairs, Occidental College
Frank, fluid dispatches…Energetic, intrepid reporting by an insider.
Kirkus Reviews
Juliana Barbassa has written a beautiful yet unflinching meditation on one of the world’s great cities during a moment of profound change. Her book is a moving examination of the immense charms, staccato violence, and unfulfilled promise of the marvelous city and of the heart of modern Brazil.
Michael Deibert, author of In The Shadow of Saint Death: the Gulf Cartel and the Price Of America’s Drug War in Mexico
[A] fascinating urban chronicle…[readers] will come away with a sense of having been there.
Publishers Weekly, view full review