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Winner of the National Book Award The building of the Panama Canal was one of the most grandiose, dramatic, and sweeping adventures of all time. ...Show synopsisWinner of the National Book Award The building of the Panama Canal was one of the most grandiose, dramatic, and sweeping adventures of all time. Spanning nearly half a century, from its beginnings by a France in pursuit of glory to its completion by the United States on the eve of World War I, it enlisted men, nations, and money on a scale never before seen. Apart from the great wars, it was the largest, costliest single effort ever mounted anywhere on earth, and it affected the lives of tens of thousands of people throughout the world. Here in all its heartbreak and eventual triumph the epic adventure is brought vividly alive by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of such books as "The Johnstown Flood," "The Great Bridge," "Truman," and "John Adams." Filled with vivid detail and incident, "The Path Between the Seas" is not only a fact-filled account of an unprecedented engineering feat; it is also the story of the people who were caught up in it--some to win fame and fortune, others to have their reputations and even their lives destroyed. For many it was the adventure of a lifetime, an adventure whose like will never be seen again. Out of it came a revolution, the birth of a new nation, the conquest of yellow fever, and the expansion of American power. Told from many viewpoints, this is an account drawn from previously unpublished and undiscovered sources, from interviews with actual participants and their families, from material gathered in Paris, Bogota, Panama, the Canal Zone, and Washington. It is a canvas filled with memorable people: Ferdinand de Lesseps and his son Charles, trying to repeat de Lesseps's Suez triumph; Jules Verne; Paul Gauguin; Gustave Eiffel; A. T. Mahan and Richard Harding Davis; Senator Mark Hanna; Secretary of State John Hay; the incredible Philippe Bunau-Varilla, "the man who invented Panama"; Dr. William Gorgas; the forgotten American engineer hero John Stevens; Colonel George Washington Goethals; and, above all, Theodore Roosevelt, who "took Panama" in 1903 and left his indelible stamp on the canal. As informative as it is fascinating, "The Path Between the Seas" is history told in the grand manner. With novelistic urgency it presents one of the great stories of all time in an account that will remain definitive for many years to come. With two detailed maps and more than eighty photographs.Hide synopsis
Truly one of the best books I've ever read. History, politics, corruption, power, all the ingredients are concerning modern man simply shown as the wheel of the lifestyle of mankind persists, often unpunished. Even Machiavelli would like to read this book.
I was stationed in Panama between 1990 and 1991, and that was the first time I read this book; it is a wonderful history of the events leading up to the construction of the canal, and then detailing both the French and the American construction efforts. I remember thinking at the time it was the best history book I'd ever read. Its now been 20 years since I left Panama, and I have to admit that it is still a wonderful book, with really two entirely different stories, the first pertaining to the French effort, the second to the American effort. This book is a lot like McCullough's John Adams, it brings both the characters and the period.... and even more importantly, the environment alive for the reader. Why the environment? It is really the Panamanian jungle and the Chagres River that are the arch villians in this story. I think I've now read the book 4 times in total, and I expect I will read it at least once more before the inevitable big dirt nap. Excellent book, great story, you will not be disappointed. By the way, McCullogh's Johnstown Flood and John Adams are two wonderful books that should not be missed. Why? They both take a historical event, humanize it, make a story out of it, and stay with the reader for years....If you like your history to be a story and more than a series of data points, you will like McCullough's writing style...
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