Paris Under Water: How The City of Light Survived The Great Flood of 1910 by historian Jeffrey H. Jackson is the first historical narrative nonfiction work in English to tell the story of the flood in the world's major urban centers and how it coped with its worst natural disaster in more than 250 years.
Over three years in the works, the book is based on a wealth of original archival material, including municipal documents, unpublished correspondence, newspaper accounts, and private journals, much of which have never been used before, as well as the trove of photos from widely-circulated postcards.
Jackson also had access to the diary and official daily logs kept by the chief of police, who provided crucial leadership during the crisis. These sources bring to life the human story of this catastrophe. Jackson takes us vicariously through the experience of the city and its inhabitants as they survived the dangerous rising water. The flooded Seine frames the story, but Jackson personalizes it with vignettes of a range of residents, from stranded families, municipal officials, and humble workers to Red Cross rescue teams, journalists, artists, government workers, and the poet Guillaume Apollinaire. Further, he argues that the flood revealed a sense of community across the city that many believed had been lost and helped pave the way for national unity in the coming conflict of World War I.