Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in GREAT PLAINS QUARTERLY 25:4 (Fall 2005). Copyright © 2005 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln.


Red River Rising is a gripping read with all the tension and memorable characters of a good whodunit. The tale is the story of the 1997 flood that devastated a number of towns in the Northern Great Plains. Author Ashley Shelby chose to concentrate on Grand Forks, North Dakota, "because the story of the town's demise and recovery could be the story of any American community unexpectedly destroyed and then left to pick up the pieces and rebuild." Shelby said she learned from her journalist father "that the only way to tell the story is to talk to the people who lived it," and she talked to a great many of them.