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RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - American Vincent Bevins, a former Los Angeles Times correspondent in Brazil, was in São Paulo in transit when the pandemic numbers exploded.

He was going to start a tour promoting his book on dictatorships, "The Jakarta Method" (PublicAffairs), but everything stopped. "I was supposed to be traveling around the world," he laments, as he is now confined to the República Square in São Paulo.

Then something unusual happened. "Relatives in the USA and friends of mine in Asia," where he had been for the past few years as a correspondent, "started to get . . .

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