He was 82 and an emeritus professor at the University of New Hampshire, where he taught from 1972 to 2017.
McCann is the author of a seminal study on the formation of the Armed Forces of Brazil, “Soldiers of the Fatherland – A History of the Brazilian Army, 1889-1937” (ed. Companhia das Letras, 2004).
In the work, he explored the interconnection between the development of military identity and political action based on the role of the uniformed in the coup that buried the Empire and in the countless crises and revolts that marked the childhood of the Republic until the Vargas era.
A more than current topic, as the military crisis of last week highlights.
“He pointed out fundamental elements for us to understand the relationship between civilians and the military, as well as how the military became involved in politics. And he did it in a non-passionate, but analytical way,” said Vinicius Mariano Carvalho, director of the Brazil Institute at King’s College of London and specialist in military history.
Born in Lackawanna (New York), in 1960 he graduated in history.
His meeting with Brazil took place in 1965. Encouraged by a group of students, with the Brazilian Teresinha Souto Ward and Hungarian George Fodor at the head, he accepted the first of the four scholarships he would receive from the Fullbright Foundation and moved to Brazil with his wife and the two young daughters.
He lived in Rio and later returned to the country on dozens of trips, in which he acquired knowledge and a taste for popular music, such as samba. But it was in uniforms that he focused his academic attention.
He wrote “The Brazilian-American Alliance, 1937-1945”, a book in which he develops the idea that the United States despised Brazil after the Second World War (1939-45).
For McCann, Washington took advantage of the relationship with the dictatorship of Getúlio Vargas and its aircraft base in Natal (RN) in the conflict, but later preferred to share the subcontinental attention with Argentina so that Brazil would not become hegemonic in South America.
The book also goes through a little-known episode, in which Brazil, according to McCann, was invited to join the allied occupation forces in Austria after the war.
The book won a Bernath Prize and McCann would be made commander of the Order of Rio Branco in 1987, in addition to receiving from the Army the Peacemaker Medal, the Force’s highest honor to civilians, in 1995.
His last completed work, in 2018, returned to the theme: “Brazil and the United States During and After the Second World War”.
“He was a precursor to a critical military historiography in Brazil, and not just apologetics”, says Carvalho.
In 2019, McCann met with Vice President General Hamilton Mourão and praised him in subsequent interviews.
Jair Bolsonaro, on the other hand, was seen, on the few occasions when he expressed himself on the topic, as someone who had populated his government with the military to try to acquire “a stature he does not have”.
He also regretted that the recommended approach between Brazil and the United States took place at a time when both countries were ruled by Bolsonaro and Donald Trump. So far it is not known whether he learned of last week’s military crisis, just before his death.
On Monday (5), the vice-president posted a tribute to the American on Twitter. “His work on the Brazilian Army and Brazil-United States relations are references for the study of our history,” he wrote.
McCain left his wife Diane and daughters Tibi and Kaydee, as well as grandchildren and other relatives. He will be buried with military honors on Tuesday (6) in Durham.
Get the latest news delivered to your inbox
Follow us on social media networks