I recommend The Control of Nature, by John McPhee (Farrar, Straus & Giroux 1989). McPhee offers three stories about man's efforts to control nature. All three are about flows. The first is the Army Corps of Engineer's effort to control the flow of the lower Mississippi, to prevent it from shifting West and cutting off New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and all the industrial plants in between. The second story is about Icelanders trying to control the flow of red hot lava that threatened to close off an important fishing harbor. The third is about Los Angeles and debris flows that come down canyons from the San Gabriel mountains after fire has destroyed the vegetation and heavy rains have washed dirt, boulders, Chevy trucks, and houses down the slopes.Afterthought:Actually, McPhee has an important UC Davis connection. McPhee's Assembling California is "a classic account of the geologic evolution of the Golden State"--an account which McPhee developed under the guidance of UCD geologist Eldridge Moores (cf. link).
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