A splendid narrative, subtitled ``Wrestling with the Mississippi," about a mighty river, from its formation, efforts to channel and change it, floods and other disasters, and future plans. Lauber (Hurricanes, p. 1051, etc.) tells everything through text and a selection of striking full-colour photographs and maps; she recounts the floods of the 1880s, 1932, and 1993, in which 464 miles of river flooded, covering over 15 million acres of farmland and driving more than 36,000 people from their homes. Rarely has a disaster been presented in such serenely beautiful photographs. From the front jacket showing a light-coloured house and red barns, window-deep in dark blue water to the penultimate scene of a great egret rising against the sun, the photographs are jewel-bright, set amidst the readable text. An engrossing look at a great river and the continuing challenge of technology and science in support of the natural environment and all its inhabitants. (photos, maps, diagrams, reproductions, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14) -- Copyright ÃÂ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.