We study long-wave evolution and runup on piecewise linear one- and two-dimensional bathymetries analytically and experimentally with the objective of understanding certain coastal effects of tidal waves. We develop a general solution method for determining the amplification factor of different ocean topographies consisting of linearly varying and constant-depth segments to study how spectral distributions evolve over bathymetry, and apply our results to study the evolution of solitary waves. We find asymptotic results which suggest that solitary waves often interact with piecewise linear topographies in a counter-intuitive manner. We compare our analytical predictions with numerical results, with results from a new set of laboratory experiments from a physical model of Revere Beach, and also with the data on wave runup around an idealized conical island. We find good agreement between our theory and the laboratory results for the time histories of free-surface elevations and for the maximum runup heights. Our results suggest that, at least for simple piecewise linear topographies, analytical methods can be used to calculate effectively some important physical parameters in long-wave runup. Also, by underscoring the effects of the topographic slope at the shoreline, this analysis qualitatively suggests why sometimes predictions of field-applicable numerical models differ substantially from observations of tsunami runup.