Rising Tide

Rising Tide

The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America

Book - 1997
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An American epic of science, politics, race, honor, high society, and the Mississippi River, Rising Tide tells the riveting and nearly forgotten story of the greatest natural disaster this country has ever known -- the Mississippi flood of 1927. The river inundated the homes of nearly one million people, helped elect Huey Long governor and made Herbert Hoover president, drove hundreds of thousands of blacks north, and transformed American society and politics forever.
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year, winner of the Southern Book Critics Circle Award and the Lillian Smith Award.
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, c1997
ISBN: 9780684840024
Branch Call Number: History 977.03 Bar


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May 20, 2016

John Barry is one of my favorite writers of popular history and "Rising Tide" is one of his best. His books usually center on specific episodes or events, but he goes into considerable detail about the cultural, social, political and intellectual milieus in which they occurred. In the case of the 1927 Mississippi River flood, Barry goes into detail about the 19th century conflict over how to manage the river between the Army Corps of Engineers and the self-taught St. Louis based engineer, James Eads. The author argues that the Corps won that fight, but that the later flood confirmed Eads' position. Barry also discusses how the political and social climate in New Orleans led to the sacrifice of some down stream communities in an effort to minimize damage to parts of the city. And in yet another facet of the episode, he asserts that the horrendously discriminatory management of the federal disaster relief effort of the Coolidge administration, under the direction of Herbert Hoover, began the alienation of African Americans from the Republican party and that accelerated in the following decade as the Franklin Roosevelt administration reached out to that community, mainly through his wife Eleanor. It's well over a decade since I read "Rising Tide," but it is still vivid in my memory. I recommend with equal enthusiasm Barry's "The Great Influenza," about the 1918 flu epidemic.


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