The Last Day

The Last Day
Nicholas Shrady

I’m not sure the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 was such “a watershed event in the Western world” as Nicholas Shrady makes it out to be, but it was one of the signal news events of the eighteenth century and a flashpoint for cultural change. There’s a bit of unnecessary padding here, with background chapters on Portuguese history that aren’t directly relevant to the subject, but the book moves quickly and provides a useful primer on the earth-shaking event itself, the subsequent physical reconstruction of Lisbon, and the political reforms spearheaded by Carvalho.