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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
David McCollough continues to be one of the best non fiction writers of our time. This book is a must read.Published 5 days ago by Christian K. Jaques
Great read. Gets a little thick sometimes but you always learn so much from McCullough's books.Published 10 days ago by Charles Croft
This was a gift to my husband after our trip to Panama - the book was recommended by Rave building of the Panama Canal and said this was the best book on the topic. Read morePublished 10 days ago by Jeanette Campbell
This ranks as one of my 5 top books ever read.
Absolutely amazing regarding engineering and the handling of insect infections.
6 out of 5 !!!
My first David McCullough book that was not about a “person”. This one takes on the creation of the Panama Canal. Read morePublished 10 days ago by Clem
Because this was the winner of the National Book Award, and because I loved McCullough's biographies of Truman and Adams, I came to this reading with great anticipation. Read morePublished 11 days ago by Rev. Judith Kelsey-Powell