Book review Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How it Changed America, by John Barry | MyPaperHub


A review of the book, Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How it Changed America, by John Barry

 It is a five hundred and twenty four page book written by John M. Barry and is about the floods event of the year 1927 associated with Mississippi River. However, it was published in 1997 by Simon and Schuster. It is about a wide range of subject matters that range from floods, governance, politics and social, cultural characteristics of the American society at the time (Barry, 1997).


 The book provides an account of the flooding that took place in the year 1927 which was caused by Mississippi and considered as one of the country’s greatest natural disaster. It is a story that is told in the points of view of two periods in history the first being before the flood where there were constant debates as to the fate of the river and its risk of flooding. It explains various perspectives by different engineers over the course of action to be taken. The other perspective takes place after the floods and expresses the devastation the flood had on the people. It reflects on the social, cultural aspect of the society, especially that between white Americans and African Americans. It also explores some political factors that develop as a result of the floods (Barry, 1997).

John Barry who is the author of the book was a well-known historian he was born in the year 1947 and has had great contributions to the world of writing. His themes are a wide range, from historical accounts, scientific information and also matters of the state in the form of politics and governance.

The purpose of the book is to provide historical accounts of the great flood caused by the Mississippi River in the year 1927. The event of the floods led to great changes such as the need for the government to have more involvement in the society. It led to political changes in the country especially in relation to natural disasters. The book shows the social, cultural characteristics of the country at the time regarding relationships between different racial groups especially whites and African American. It describes the migration of African Americans to the northern states as a result of the floods and also explores some of the great engineering development established based on the new policies developed in relation to the consequences of the floods (Barry, 1997).

The scope of the story from the book revolves around aspects of political development in the country. The development of the New Deal by the government as a measure to have more interest in matters of the public. It also came at a time when economic aspects of the country were at a downfall due to the great depression. The book also explores the migration of African Americans to the north due to the devastating effects of the floods as well as the economic opportunities in the northern states. It explored the period during the reconstruction characterized by developments in the country after the civil war and was characterized by negative relations between whites and blacks. It also explores the political developments especially of some of the people associated with help to people during the floods a good example is the rise of President Hubert Hoover. His direct involvement in helping out during the floods gave him a great reputation that rose him to power (Barry, 1997).


The book describes the flood and how it transformed the nation. It explores aspects of race relation, changes to the land and also effects that it had to the politics of the nation. It also best describes aspects of the food in terms of the theories that support the occurrence, the causality it had regarding the destruction of property as well as the loss of life. It integrates aspects of the natural occurrence in social and political factors of the nation at the time. The book as explained above explores two aspects. The first being before the floods and the second after the floods. In the first section, Barry explores the conflicts that existed between different engineers all of whom had their own vision of the way the river could be controlled to ensure safety and reduce the risks of floods. On one side there were those who argued towards the developing of levies ton increase the speed of the current in order for the river to have more action on its bed meaning that its depth would have to be increased. This means that navigation would be made easier and would help in economic development of the region along the river through developed water transport systems. The other side argued against it and saw the need to develop more channels to redirect the flow and reduce the power of the river. This would ensure that the risk of floods is reduced. The other aspect is associated with after the floods occurred and mainly focuses on the socio-political factors that the flood led to. The flood sparked the African American migration to the northern states of the country for better opportunity, and also to run away from the devastations of the flood. The book also describes the conflict between transport systems that policymakers were divided because of (Barry, 1997).


 The books explore both natural aspects of the flood and their socio-political influence in the country. The author was effective in developing different perspectives of the story and most of all conflicting factors within the story. This is a very effective method which enabled the book to have depth and explore various factors that arise from the disaster. The fields were one of the greatest natural catastrophes in the country and made the historical account of the book show how such incidences necessitate change within the society. The validity of judgment is based on exploring both sides of the coin in order to allow readers decide for themselves the side they wish to pick. After that is when the author provides his own point of view. The book is filled with personal opinions and reflections of situations from the event. An example is associated with the author's point of view in relation to the Levy policies developed with the aim of enhancing the transport system provided for by the river. His focus on his point of view in the book sometimes leads him astray and does not give room for readers to make choices of their own because the influence he has on the information (Rising Tide,  2017).


 The book does so well in providing a vivid description of the historical account of the floods. It describes the social, political aspect associated with the floods in a very captivating and interesting manner. The author's ability to describe conflicting aspects of the story enables him to develop a good story that people can easily follow and enjoy reading. The books describe one of the greatest engineering developments attributed to the devastating effects the dam had in the country. It explores race relation regarding how African Americans fled to the north. It is a book with great significance in explaining the history of the United States based on a natural disaster. It explores various important themes that led to change in the country (Rising Tide,  2017).



Barry, J. M. (1997). Rising tide: the great Mississippi flood of 1927 and how it changed America. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Rising Tide. (2017). Retrieved from


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