The Great Flood: Travels Through a Sodden Landscape


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The Great Flood: Travels Through a Sodden Landscape Author: Format: Paperback / softback First Published: Published By: Pan Macmillan Pages: 192 Language: English ISBN: 9780330420280 Categories: , , , ,

A BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week. Flooding has always threatened the rainy, wind-swept islands of the United Kingdom, but it is becoming more frequent and more severe. Combining travel writing and reportage with readings of history, literature and myth, Edward Platt explores the way floods have shaped the physical landscape of Britain and left their mark on its inhabitants. During the course of two years, which coincided with the record-breaking floods of the winter of 2013-14, Platt travelled around the country, visiting places that had flooded and meeting the people affected. He visited flooded villages and towns and expanses of marsh and Fen threatened by the winter storms, and travelled along the edge of the drowned plain that used to connect Britain to continental Europe. He met people struggling to stop their houses falling into the sea and others whose homes had been engulfed. He investigated disasters natural and man-made, and heard about the conflicting attitudes towards those charged with preventing them. The Great Flood dramatizes the experience of being flooded and considers what will happen as the planet warms and the waters rise, illuminating the reality behind the statistics and headlines that we all too often ignore.

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Platt frequently draws on literature, whether William Blake, J. G. Ballard, Carol Ann Duffy, Rebecca Solnit or the Epic of Gilgamesh, but the book's main focus is local: Platt covers ground on foot in the aftermath of deluges, around the tributaries of England and Wales . . . Sympathetic to the unromantic, everyday nature of suffering, Platt also has an eye for the absurd . . . Striking environmental facts are relayed through equally striking stories . . . The Great Flood's strength lies in the vivid historical context in which Platt's subject is couched. * TLS * In this vitally important book . . . Edward Platt travelled to every waterlogged, storm struck, flooded and overwhelmed area of Britain . . . Platt is both keen observer, sympathetic listener, eager apprentice and shrewd commentator, with a weather eye on the future and a deep understanding of the past -- Ebenezer Presents A thoughtful, non-judgemental account of the increasing vulnerability of many parts of Britain to flooding. It comes from a subtle, self-effacing chronicler whose early book, Leadville: A biography of the A40, was an indispensable contribution to London's uncanny geography -- Ken Worpole * Caught by the River * A rigorous investigation . . . with such an impressive range of references . . . the real power of the book is its insight into the psychological burden of flooding -- Hannah Malcolm * Church Times * [An] absorbing blend of travel writing, reportage and interviews [giving] a very timely picture of how water shapes both our landscapes and our sense of who we are -- Caroline Sanderson, The Bookseller Sobering * i * Fascinating * Choice * [An] engrossing account of floods ancient and modern * Sunday Times * A reporter of fearless imagination -- Simon Jenkins * The Times * How we visualise climate catastrophe tends toward the epic, the exotic . . . Platt instead locates its effects in the everyday: the flooding experienced by England's picture postcard towns and occasionally decrepit coastal settlements . . . The Great Flood makes the global local in the same way that the climate emergency does. Platt's writing combines sharp reportage with a poet's eye for a striking image that vividly captures the otherworldly, waterlogged landscapes he travels through . . . "When it comes to climate change, we are all to blame." -- Guardian

Author Biography

Edward Platt was born in 1968 and lives in London. His first book, Leadville, won a Somerset Maugham Award and the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. He is also the author of The Great Flood and The City of Abraham, a journey through Hebron, the only place in the West Bank where Palestinians and Israelis lived side by side.