Jeffrey H. Jackson
Palgrave Macmillan Trade
In the winter of 1910, the river that brought life to Paris quickly became a force of destruction. Torrential rainfall saturated the soil, and faulty engineering created a perfect storm of conditions that soon drowned Parisian streets, homes, businesses, and museums. The city seemed to have lost its battle with the elements. Given the Parisians’ history of deep-seated social, religious, and political strife, it was questionable whether they could collaborate to confront the crisis. Yet while the sewers, Métro, and electricity failed around them, Parisians of all backgrounds rallied to save the city and one another. Improvising techniques to keep Paris functioning and braving the dangers of collapsing infrastructure and looters, leaders and residents alike answered the call to action. This newfound ability to work together proved a crucial rehearsal for an even graver crisis four years later, when France was plunged into World War I. On the occasion of the hundredth anniversary of the flood, Jeffrey H. Jackson captures here for the first time the drama and ultimate victory of man over nature.
"It’s hard to imagine a more thoroughly researched history of the Paris, France, flood of 1910 than Paris Under Water by Jeffrey H. Jackson. With the national debate roaring on whether post-Katrina New Orleans should be rebuilt, Paris Under Wateroffers the definitive answer of yes. A truly first-rate book." --Douglas Brinkley, author of The Great Deluge:Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Gulf Coast
"Jeffrey Jackson’s meticulous account of the great Paris flood is harrowing history told in gripping detail but also a stark warning as waters rise everywhere."--Mort Rosenblum, author of Secret Life of the Seine and Chocolate
"Paris Under Water is a riveting account of a natural catastrophe that struck Paris in 1910. Going far beyond the boundaries of environmental or urban history, it draws on an exceptionally wide array of sources to offer the reader a meticulous, yet rich and personal, reconstruction of what the great flood felt like to contemporaries, what it revealed about social tensions and solidarities, and what it signified on a broader historical scale. Jackson has succeeded masterfully in telling a fascinating story in a way that any reader will find utterly irresistible, while applying insightful and erudite scholarly analysis in a way that sheds light on a great city’s social, economic, and cultural life. A tour de force of scholarship and brilliantly creative craftsmanship." --Michael D. Bess, author of Choices Under Fire:Moral Dimensions of World War II
"Before New Orleans, there was Paris. The Great Paris Flood of 1910, which paralyzed the world’s most modern city and caused over a billion euros (by today’s standards) worth of damage, provides a fascinating study of physical and social devastation and human survival. Jackson blends the vivid details of the flood--exploding sewer covers, disintegrating streets--with the wider historical context, from the Commune of 1871 to World War I, and the psychology of disaster. Modernization itself contributed to Paris’s destruction. But, as Jackson concludes, in the end Paris survived the flood because it was a functioning human community, not because it was a modern metropolis. Any student of history or lover of Paris will want to read this book." --Sarah Smith, The Knowledge of Water, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year
"Stories about Paris have left us with a rich profile of a city at the vanguard of political action and cultural life. Yet Jeffrey H. Jackson’s new book muddies these familiar waters. His gripping account of the 1910 flood recounts the highs and the lows of what happened when water “shorted out” the city of light. With a knack for the diversity of human response to disaster and the historian’s eye for the telling detail, Jackson draws our attention to how nature interacts with our greatest of human-wrought environments: the metropolis. This book not only is an important tale, worthy of being told but it also will open the door to reconsiderations of the interaction of technology and the environment in ways that are vitally relevant today." --Vanessa R. Schwartz, It’s So French: Hollywood, Paris, and the Making of Cosmopolitan Film Culture