History of Panama (Greenwood Histories of the Modern Nations Series)

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As the narrowest stretch of land in the Central American isthmus, Panama's geographical location has for millenia made it the crossroads for traders, travelers, European pirates, and world superpowers. Panamanian history is replete with explicit or tacit domination by others. In the post-Columbus period, Panama was first a Spanich colony, then a province of Colombia, and then finally a quasi-territory of the United States during the 20th century. Suffering invasion by the United States in 1989 to oust dictator Manuel Noriega and then receiving full ownership of the Panama Canal at the end of 1999, Panama has rebuilt itself into a strong, if contentious democracy.

This work chronicles and highlights the key events and figures in the country's past 500 years of history, from Columbus to current day. It begins with Panama's colonial period, demonstrating how even in its early day, the isthmus was seen by the Spanish as merely a transshipment point. It then examines the post-Spanish period when the Colombian province of Panama became a forgotten backwater until European powers began vying for canal rights, leading to an ill-fated French effort. The main portion of the book details the events, figures, and intricacies of the Panama-U.S. relationship, which dominated Panama's history for the entire 20th century. It closes with an examination of the gains and challenges the country has faced in the post-U.S. invasion years.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Christopher Columbus left his brother in Panama to found a European settlement, an enterprise which was destroyed by local Indians. It was incorporated into Peru, sacked by the English, incorporated into Colombia, divided by a railroad, divided again by a canal, invaded by the US several times, decimated by dictators and finally, after significant reforms, emerged as one of the most democratic and free nations in Latin America. Despite its fascinating history, however, most people only remember Panama for its canal. In this history for the general readership, Harding makes sure to give the canal its due respect (it was built in fits and starts to be completed in 1913) but also describes the role Panama played in treating malaria, defining US foreign policy, and maintaining a rich and distinct culture despite all the sacking, invading, and dictating."


Reference & Research Book News

"[D]esigned for students in middle school through college and public libraries, will give the reader a better understanding of the world….[o]ffers a well-organized format and clear, concise writing."


Multicultural Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780313333224
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/30/2006
  • Series: The Greenwood Histories of the Modern Nations
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 178
  • Sales rank: 1,401,341
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

ROBERT C. HARDING is Director of International Studies and Assistant Professor of Political Science at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama. His research interests include Latin American Politics, security studies, and space policy.

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Table of Contents

Timeline of historical events
1 Panama is a canal and more 1
2 Colonial Panama to independence 11
3 Completing the canal to World War II 27
4 Panama during the Cold War 45
5 Dictatorship, nationalism, and the canal treaties, 1968-1981 65
6 The Noriega years, 1981-1990 89
7 Democracy and the canal gained 119
Notable people in the history of Panama 139
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2007

    Great packaging of Panama's history

    Having read and enjoyed Harding's previous book on Panama, I eagerly took to this one. I was not disappointed. Again using a easy to read prose style, Harding tells the story of Panama from Spanish colonization to today. Most interesting is the amount of detail he packs into this relatively small volume. If you only read one history of Panama, this is as good a one as any.

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