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The Canal Builders: Making America's Empire at the Panama Canal (Penguin History of American Life) Hardcover – February 5, 2009
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Like preceding chronicles of the construction of the Panama Canal (Matthew Parker’s Panama Fever, 2008), Greene’s account focuses on its feats of engineering, but in this case, social engineering. Previously an author of a history about the American Federation of Labor, Greene includes the workers’ experience within the context of the creation of a community from scratch, and that, within the wider contexts of empire building and Progressivism. Many Progressives, Greene relates, visited the canal project; the encouragement some of them took from an American example of governmental socioeconomic intervention contrasts with the actual on-the-ground character of the canal zone until the completion of the canal in 1914. Greene portrays a complex web of regulations that authority applied to those drawn to the zone. Through many personal accounts, Greene covers conflicts that inevitably arose, centrally over labor rules and a pay structure that discriminated against black workers, among others means of enforcing segregation. Interests in social history and attitudes of the Progressive Era will be drawn to Greene’s perspective on the building of the Panama Canal. --Gilbert Taylor
About the Author
Julie Greene is a professor of history at the University of Maryland at College Park and the author of Pure and Simple Politics: The American Federation of Labor and Political Activism, 1881Â1917. Educated at the universities of Michigan, Cambridge, and Yale, Greene has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies.
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But reading each book is important in order to get both sides if this most important story. Liberals have "heart", and the superior moral view of history and politics. The "conservatives" are more cerebral, and understand that wealth and character are necessary to social reform, which is expensive.
Both books should be read by anyone interested in this most important period in American development.