100 years after the flood

Win an autographed copy

Natural disasters force us to think about man vs. nature, a conflict that is no doubt in many of our minds as we watch devastating footage from Haiti.

Considering this, I attended historian Jeffrey Jackson’s talk at Davis-Kidd Booksellers in Nashville with great interest. Jackson’s latest book (published January 5 by Palgrave Macmillan) is titled Paris Under Water: How the City of Light Survived the Great Flood of 1910.

The Flood of 1910 is fascinating because it has long existed, in the words of Jackson, “in the realm of myth and legend.” The author argues that because the flood occurred in 1910—between the Dreyfus affair (a political scandal that divided France) and World War I—it has faded into the background of more prominent historical events.

Most Parisians’ knowledge of the Flood is based on postcard images, which remain collectable. According to Jackson, prior to his publication there was only one book on the event—a picture book from 1997—although families do pass down stories of how their ancestors dealt with the rising waters. Jackson explained: “[The Flood] is not totally forgotten, but not totally remembered.”

In Paris Under Water, Jackson explores how communities came together and, against all odds, saved Paris in the midst of collapsing infrastructure, looters and failed electricity and public transportation. Although media images from natural disasters typically represent chaos, Jackson explained that in uncontrollable, dangerous situations “people generally pull together. . . collaborate to save themselves.”

Although he promises no bullet-pointed list of “what to do in a disaster,” Jackson did say that his research has made him think about “how and why communities are viable, how communities form.”

Read Jackson’s book for yourself to learn why the Great Flood of 1910 was a “perfect storm situation,” and how Parisians triumphed over nature to save the city they loved. This book has contemporary relevance and incredible detail. For a preview, visit Jackson’s website: Paris Under Water.

Anyone interested in urban planning, disaster relief or French history would enjoy Paris Under Water — and lucky for you, we’re giving away an AUTOGRAPHED copy. Respond by Wednesday for a chance to win: What is your favorite work of nonfiction?

For another take on what happens after natural disaster, read journalist Jed Horne’s behind-the-book essay on Breach of Faith: Hurricane Katrina and the Near Death of a Great American City.

19 Responses to 100 years after the flood

  1. Darshell Silva says:

    My current fave non fiction is Superfreakonimics..

  2. Irene says:

    I would choose The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.

  3. pearl says:

    This post was informative and interesting. Thanks for this chance. When I read Safe Passage by Ida Cook I was captivated by this memorable story.

  4. Victoria says:

    I love non-fiction, so it’s a tough choice. I’m going to go with Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson.

  5. Pam says:

    I’d have to go with Isaac’s Storm, as well, someone once told me they call this genre “weather porn.” Would love to read Paris Under Water!

  6. Joan says:

    Laurie Garrett’s “The Coming Plague.” I liked the discussion of epidemic predictions.

  7. Terri M says:

    The Path Between the Seas, by David McCoullough (spelling?) about the building of the Panama Canal.

  8. Melissa Mc says:

    I loved The Johnstown Flood by David McCollough. But my most recent book love is, My Life in France by Julia Child.
    So, if you combine both of those books, it’s kinda like a Paris flood! :)

  9. Terri says:

    My favorite nonfiction book is still Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil – the place and characters come alive!

  10. DarcyO says:

    I’m with Terri, my favorite is also Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt – loved it!

  11. JoAnn says:

    Ironically, my favorite non-fiction is also about a flood, David McCullough’s “The Johnstown Flood”. I read it in a matter of hours. What a story.

  12. Tricia Douglas says:

    The OUTLIERS, by Gladwell, is one of my favorite nonfiction. But . . . . I love POPE JOAN, the best historical fiction account written yet! All women should be glad that they live in this time period. We’ve come a long way!

  13. Sally Hackney says:

    My favorite NF work is Seabiscuit:An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand.

  14. Rock Conner says:

    Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883
    Author: Simon Winchester

  15. My favorite nonfiction author is Jon Krakauer. If I had to pick just one of his books it would be Into Thin Air.

  16. The information presented is top notch. I’ve been doing some research on the topic and this post answered several questions.

  17. Alana Mautone says:

    Freakonomics. I hope one day to find Superfreakonomics in the library!

  18. […] to Tricia—the winner of an autographed copy of Paris Under Water by Jeffrey Jackson! (Click here to read the original […]

  19. Trey Weddle says:

    By far the most concise and up to date information I found on this topic. Sure glad that I navigated to your page by accident. I’ll be subscribing to your feed so that I can get the latest updates. Appreciate all the information here

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