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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
A monumental achievement in meticulous research, writing, and story telling.....and about so much more than an epic feat in engineering.Published 2 days ago by R. W. Adams MD
I bought this book because it was recommended by a friend who knew we would be living in Panamá for a couple of years. Read morePublished 5 days ago by DeeDee
I bought this for the grandkids after a trip through the Canal. They all lived it despite that it was an adult book. Read morePublished 5 days ago by Richard E. Cavanagh
Well told story. Phenominal accomplishment for mankind. David McCullough portraial of the intrigarte and mundain events that lead to the creation of the cannel are masterfully... Read morePublished 6 days ago by Mountainman
just what you'd expect from such an historical perfectionist. Brilliantly researched and conveyed in a style that is spellbinding. This gentleman knows how to write.Published 7 days ago by Lisa Boyd