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Starts strong, then loses its way
on 12 February 1999
The first section of this book, a "rippin yarn", recounts the fascinating careers of several 19th century men who made their marks on the Mississippi River. The rest of the book is a hodge-podge of variously intriguing and pointless factors leading up to and flowing from the 1927 flood (Why drag the Taylorites into this?). The author spares no effort to bludgeon the reader into accepting that the flood was one of the watershed events of the era, but it doesn't wash. The characterization of key figures is heavy-handed and simplistic, evoking a class struggle in which the rich and powerful (New Orleans (hiss), the Percy family and Herbert Hoover) were all, ultimately if not sooner, evil, or, worse yet, seeking more power. Also, after excoriating the bureaucracies (especially the Corps of Engineers) that made the flood inevitable, the author provides virtually no information about what has been done to deal with the River in the subsequent 70 years. I might tolerate such failings in a magazine article, but not in a work with pretensions to stand as a history reference work.