Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How it Changed America Themes

John M. Barry
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Hubris

Assuming that the Mississippi River can be controlled is hubris. Throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s, an irrational faith in the ability of engineering leads many to believe that nature itself can be fully understood and controlled. Men like Humphreys and Eads, while manifestly brilliant, are irrationally confident that they can fully understand processes as complex as hydraulics and turbulence. They further believe that a sufficient understanding would subsequently lead to the ability to completely subjugate natural forces.

This mistaken belief leads many engineers to the conclusion that the Mississippi River can be decisively controlled by the construction of strong levee systems, the levees-only policy which leads to the disastrous flooding of 1927 as the levee system collapses.

The mistake is realized only at the cost of thousands of lives, millions of livelihoods and hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. The realization that the Mississippi cannot be...

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This section contains 407 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How it Changed America Study Guide
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