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All that changed, writes David McCullough in his magisterial history of the Canal, in 1848, when prospectors struck gold in California. A wave of fortune seekers descended on Panama from Europe and the eastern United States, seeking quick passage on California-bound ships in the Pacific, and the Panama Railroad, built to serve that traffic, was soon the highest-priced stock listed on the New York Exchange. To build a 51-mile-long ship canal to replace that railroad seemed an easy matter to some investors. But, as McCullough notes, the construction project came to involve the efforts of thousands of workers from many nations over four decades; eventually those workers, laboring in oppressive heat in a vast malarial swamp, removed enough soil and rock to build a pyramid a mile high. In the early years, they toiled under the direction of French entrepreneur Ferdinand de Lesseps, who went bankrupt while pursuing his dream of extending France's empire in the Americas. The United States then entered the picture, with President Theodore Roosevelt orchestrating the purchase of the canal--but not before helping foment a revolution that removed Panama from Colombian rule and placed it squarely in the American camp.
The story of the Panama Canal is complex, full of heroes, villains, and victims. McCullough's long, richly detailed, and eminently literate book pays homage to an immense undertaking. --Gregory McNamee
Very well written and easy to read.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of the canal, and especially for anyone who is going to, or has cruised through the canal.
David McCullough makes the epic story of the building of the Panama Canal come to life in a way that few authors could.
A very complete study of the construction history of the canal. It shows the enormous amount of flim-flam, chicanery and hard nosed "politicking" that took place. Read morePublished 4 hours ago by David A. Blackadar
Wish I had read this book years ago. Wonderfully descriptive historical writing by the master of same. Every American and French citizen should read it.Published 4 hours ago by Kenneth A Raines
This is an intense description of locating a canal route and the hard work and sacrifices that brought the Panama Canal to be an important trade route. Read morePublished 7 hours ago by Ronald L. Cauthon
Love the way the author writes, he makes his books flow like telling a made up story. I love history but, do not like reading just the facts like in a history book. Read morePublished 7 hours ago by Diana Coleman
This is an excellent treatment of the building of the Panama canal. Its a readable and engaging story, starting with the failed French effort and providing a fascinating account... Read morePublished 9 hours ago by rd
Fascinating! McCullough's book reads like fiction. His very scholarly treatise traces the conception and construction of the Panama Canal from the French efforts and ultimate... Read morePublished 9 hours ago by Jerry Kromberg
This is a comprehensive account of a great undertaking. Not a dull page.Published 11 hours ago by william G. towne