Through his ambitious rebuilding plan, the Viceroy sought to assert the power of the colonial state over the Church, the upper classes, and other groups. Agreeing with most inhabitants of the fervently Catholic city that the earthquake-tsunami was a manifestation of God’s wrath for Lima’s decadent ways, he hoped to reign in the city’s baroque excesses and to tame the city’s notoriously independent women. To his great surprise, almost everyone objected to his plan, sparking widespread debate about political power and urbanism. Illuminating the shaky foundations of Spanish control in Lima, Walker describes the latent conflicts—about class, race, gender, religion, and the very definition of an ordered society—brought to the fore by the earthquake-tsunami of 1746.
Charles F. Walker is Professor of History and Director of the Hemispheric Institute on the Americas at the University of California, Davis. He is the author of Smoldering Ashes: Cuzco and the Creation of Republican Peru, 1780–1840, also published by Duke University Press.
Described by Geonet as one of the most complex earthquakes ever observed, RNZ's Vicky McKay was first to report on its violence, broadcasting live in the Wellington studio when 7.8 arrived by stealth at 12.02am. As intermittent reports came in from as far north as Auckland and south to Gore, confusion reigned and New Zealanders were asked to turn on public radio for live updates. Reporters for the national broadcaster scrambled - and leading the way was veteran journalist Phil Pennington, part of the first team to arrive in the damage zone. Surviving 7.8 relives the drama from the moment it struck to the remarkable, horrifying, yet fascinating events that followed, and the typically Kiwi response to a disaster of unbelievable scale.
Throughout the narrative are quotes, tweets, Facebook posts and stories from everyday New Zealanders - the immediate reaction, the uncertainty, the turmoil, to the roll-your-sleeves-up, let's-get-on-with-it, do-it-yourself attitude that New Zealanders are known for. From Gary Melville, who used bricks that fell off his house to cook a lamb roast, to the Christchurch man who rallied to save the lives of thousands of paua; to the Rakautara residents stranded between two massive landslides, to the farmer who lent Phil Pennington his ute to get around the disaster zone, Surviving 7.8 captures the events and the sometimes bizarre twists and turns in a tough but fascinating study in resilience.
'Stealth and power - these are the hallmarks of a major earthquake. It arrives unheralded at the spot on which you stand or the bed in which you lie, and sends you reeling. Your family or friends can be all around you, next to you, clutching you, and you are powerless to help them; your partner may be on the other side of the bed, your child may be under a table across the room, and in that moment you are powerless to reach them and powerless to stop the shaking and swaying. In those moments, you feel tiny and the forces beneath you feel massive, even malevolent. You are caught up in a geological rollercoaster ride from which there is no way off and for which there is no stop button. You feel as though you have been king-hit by the very earth casting aside its moorings. It would be an awe-inspiring thing to go through if it wasn't so damn frightening; if it wasn't so damn unpredictable; if it wasn't so damn inevitable.' - Phil Pennington in Surviving 7.8