This Gulf of Fire

The Destruction of Lisbon, or Apocalypse in the Age of Science and Reason

Author: Mark Molesky

Publisher: Vintage

ISBN: 1101875828

Category: History

Page: 512

View: 4686

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Winner of the Phi Alpha Theta Best Subsequent Book Award Finalist: Los Angeles Times Book Prize The captivating and definitive account of the most consequential natural disaster of modern times. On All Saints’ Day 1755, tremors from an earthquake measuring perhaps 9.0 (or higher) on the moment magnitude scale swept furiously from their origin along the Atlantic seabed toward the Iberian and African coasts. Directly in their path was Lisbon, then one of the wealthiest cities in the world and the capital of a vast global empire. Within minutes, much of the city lay in ruins. But this was only the beginning. A half hour later, a giant tsunami unleashed by the quake smashed into Portugal’s coastline and barreled up the Tagus River, carrying countless thousands out to sea. By day’s end, the great wave chain would claim victims on four separate continents. To complete Lisbon’s destruction, a hellacious firestorm then engulfed the city’s shattered remains. Subjecting survivors to temperatures exceeding 1,832°F (1,000°C), it burned for several weeks, killing thousands and incinerating much of what the earthquake and tsunami had spared. Drawing on a wealth of new sources, the latest scientific research, and a sophisticated grasp of European history, Mark Molesky gives us the authoritative account of the Great Lisbon Disaster and its impact on the Western world—including descriptions of the world’s first international relief effort; the rise of a brutal, yet modernizing, dictatorship in Portugal; and the effect of the disaster on the spirit and direction of the European Enlightenment. Much more than a chronicle of destruction, This Gulf of Fire is, at its heart, a gripping human drama, involving an array of unforgettable characters—such as the Marquês de Pombal, the once-slighted striver who sees in the chaos his path to supreme power, and Gabriel Malagrida, the charismatic Jesuit whose view that the earthquake was a punishment sent by God leads inexorably to his demise. There is Dom José, the unremarkable king of Portugal, who stands by his people in their moment of greatest need but ultimately abandons them to the tyranny of his first minister. There is Kitty Witham, the plucky English nun who helps her fellow sisters escape from their collapsing convent, and Manoel Portal, the Oratorian priest who flees the burning capital on his broken leg and goes on to write one of the definitive accounts of the disaster. Philosophers, kings, poets, emperors, scientists, scoundrels, journalists, and monkeys all make their appearance in this remarkable narrative of the mid-eighteenth century. From the Hardcover edition.
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Tornado God

American Religion and Violent Weather

Author: Peter J. Thuesen

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

ISBN: 0190680288

Category: Religion

Page: 312

View: 2444

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One of the earliest sources of humanity's religious impulse was severe weather, which ancient peoples attributed to the wrath of storm gods. Enlightenment thinkers derided such beliefs as superstition and predicted they would pass away as humans became more scientifically and theologically sophisticated. But in America, scientific and theological hubris came face-to-face with the tornado, nature's most violent windstorm. Striking the United States more than any other nation, tornadoes have consistently defied scientists' efforts to unlock their secrets. Meteorologists now acknowledge that even the most powerful computers will likely never be able to predict a tornado's precise path. Similarly, tornadoes have repeatedly brought Americans to the outer limits of theology, drawing them into the vortex of such mysteries as how to reconcile suffering with a loving God and whether there is underlying purpose or randomness in the universe. In this groundbreaking history, Peter Thuesen captures the harrowing drama of tornadoes, as clergy, theologians, meteorologists, and ordinary citizens struggle to make sense of these death-dealing tempests. He argues that, in the tornado, Americans experience something that is at once culturally peculiar (the indigenous storm of the national imagination) and religiously primal (the sense of awe before an unpredictable and mysterious power). He also shows that, in an era of climate change, the weather raises the issue of society's complicity in natural disasters. In the whirlwind, Americans confront the question of their own destiny-how much is self-determined and how much is beyond human understanding or control.
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Disasters: Core Concepts and Ethical Theories

Author: Dónal P. O’Mathúna,Vilius Dranseika,Bert Gordijn

Publisher: Springer

ISBN: 3319927221

Category: Philosophy

Page: 244

View: 8249

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This Open Access Book is the first to examine disasters from a multidisciplinary perspective. Justification of actions in the face of disasters requires recourse both to conceptual analysis and ethical traditions. Part 1 of the book contains chapters on how disasters are conceptualized in different academic disciplines relevant to disasters. Part 2 has chapters on how ethical issues that arise in relation to disasters can be addressed from a number of fundamental normative approaches in moral and political philosophy. This book sets the stage for more focused normative debates given that no one book can be completely comprehensive. Providing analysis of core concepts, and with real-world relevance, this book should be of interest to disaster scholars and researchers, those working in ethics and political philosophy, as well as policy makers, humanitarian actors and intergovernmental organizations..
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A Pre-Modern Cultural History of Risk

Imagining the Future

Author: Gaspar Mairal

Publisher: Routledge

ISBN: 1000043711

Category: Business & Economics

Page: 256

View: 6398

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This book answers the need for a contextual, long-term and interpretative analysis of risk from original sources. Risk has historically been a way of imagining what could happen in the future based on expert theories and predictions. This book explores this notion of "managing the future" by tracing the conceptual development of risk from its origin in Islamic Koranic theology. It follows its long voyage from mercantile law and navigation in Medieval Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean, to Columbus' arrival to the Indies and the Spanish exploration and colonization in the Americas. It considers the mathematical invention of probability in games of chance, the birth of journalism in Britain with Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year, the earthquake of Lisbon in 1755 and the subsequent controversy between apocalyptic believers and enlightened philosophers. Tracking the growth and evolution of risk as a concept across various historical periods and events, Mairal highlights four key features of risk - time, knowledge, relationship and probability - and argues that risk is not based on perception as it is generally presented, but rather on knowledge accrued and developed over a vast historical time frame. A Pre-Modern Cultural History of Risk will be of great interest to students and scholars of risk management.
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