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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
The book is very interesting. It does have quite a lot of details, particularly about the French period, but, in general, it is quite an interesting read. Read morePublished 2 hours ago by Vic S.
I lived in the Canal Zone for 12 years and loved it This book is a masterpiece in that it gives you a clear understanding asto what it took to build the PANAMA CANAL. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Verna Barbour
A fine, adequately detailed account of the creation of a wonder of the world. Very readable.Published 1 day ago by William A. McVitty
This was my homework assignment before visiting the modern Panama Canal. Should be required reading for all visitors. Read morePublished 2 days ago by Keith Aspinall
Typical David McCullough book. Long but packed with information written in an interesting manner. Makes you feel like you are there through exciting and challenging times in... Read morePublished 3 days ago by cfkiser
This was a great book, and everyone should read it. The history is something everyone should know about.Published 3 days ago by Robert Kuester
I enjoyed this book but I was looking for a book that was more into the design and construction of the canal. Read morePublished 4 days ago by Terry Moore