The Reading List: Flooding


After the Flood by Robert Polidori, RRP £50

Between September 2005 and April 2006, renowned architectural photographer Robert Polidori made a series of visits to New Orleans to photograph the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina.

The result is After the Flood, a collection of images – equally poignant and beautiful – of the ghost town that was left behind.


Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America by John M Barry, RRP £9.99

A controversial account of one of the 20th century's great disasters, John M Barry's Rising Tide examines the social history of a flood which left living areas submerged under 30 feet of water. Some 300,000 African-Americans were forced into refugee camps while others never returned to their homes. Barry suggests that the flood, in the changes itinitiated, was ultimately responsible for the demise of the old plantation aristocracy.


Written in Water: A Message for the Future, RRP £14.99

Under the editorship of Irina Salina, a range of contributors – including Alexandra Cousteau, social environmental advocate and granddaughter of Jacques Cousteau; oceanographer Sylvia Earle and author Bill McKibben – offer essays on subjects ranging from slavery to drought and water management. Ultimately, they highlight the crucial role of water in our society.


Paris Under Water: How the City of Light Survived the Great Flood of 1910 by Jeffrey H Jackson, RRP £20

Historian and director of environmental studies at Rhodes College, Tennessee, Jackson refers to the Parisian floods of 1910 both to offer lessons on disaster response and toreflect on human nature. Though none was prepared for the fate that swept their way, the Parisian response demonstrated both fraternal solidarity and civil organisation.


The Works of John Clare (from Amazon for less than £1)

For an account of flooding at its more dramatic, look no further than Clare's poem The Flood. Using the imagery of waves which "trough – rebound – and fury boil again/ like plunging monsters rising underneath," Clare offers a glimpse of nature's brutal power.