Panama Canal

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Like St. George's The Mount Rushmore Story , this is a handsome, heavily illustrated history of a major American icon. Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, the Panama Canal was little more than a ``raw and muddy wound'' when it was begun; its completion was a political and technological feat. St. George makes excellent use of quotations from a veritable mountain of sources. She gives an interesting account of the battle won by Dr. William Gorgas against yellow fever in the region; and she makes revealing distinctions between the three chief engineers who, by turn, impeded or advanced the complex project. She seems reluctant, however, to voice her own views about such central themes as the race problems between the American engineers and the Indians who worked on the project, and the issue of sovereignty of the Canal. She also does not probe the political aftershock of President Roosevelt's ``gunboat diplomacy'' and other controversial policies. The pale historical photographs, first-rate diagrams and maps add tremendously to the impact of the book. Ages 10-up. (Jan.)
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Well researched and fascinating, St. George provides an account of the 10-year transformation of the jungle, mountain ranges, and swamp, plus the diseases that were obstacles to the construction of the canal. This 50-mile waterway contains the largest lock ever designed, the biggest man-made lake and the longest earthen dam. St. George completed her book in time for the 75th anniversary of the canal. It is well illustrated with black-and-white photographs. Widely praised and winner of the Golden Kite Award.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-- St. George conveys a sense of the immense scope of the building and operation of the Panama Canal in this fine book. She has obviously done a great deal of research, and she presents information about the canal in a way which even readers without background knowledge will be able to understand. She describes in vivid detail the enormous technical and engineering difficulties of the project without lapsing into confusing technical jargon. She also details the war against disease that the builders had to fight, allowing readers to see how hard life was in the tropics before the advent of modern sanitation and medicine. However, the biggest strength of this book is the way in which St. George chronicles the human cost of the canal. She brings the leaders and bosses to life, describing how they helped or hindered the project. Even more interesting are the glimpses into the lives of the workers, many of whom lived in unbelievable squalor. She also describes the relations between the U.S. and Panama, closing with the U.S. decision to relinquish the canal. St. George's writing is consistently good. Black-and-white photos show the scope and difficulties of the project. Maps and drawings help illustrate some of the more difficult technical points. This book offers much more information about the canal and its importance than Panama in Pictures (Lerner, 1987) by English. --Mary Mueller, Rolla Junior High School, Mo.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399216374
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/12/1989
  • Pages: 144
  • Age range: 10 years
  • Product dimensions: 9.32 (w) x 7.54 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

So You Want to Be President? and the historical Turning Point series, including You're On Your Way, Teddy Roosevelt; Stand Tall, Abe Lincoln; and Take the Lead, George Washington. You can visit her online at

Judith St. George has published dozens of successful nonfiction books for children, including the Caldecott Medal-winning So You Want to Be President? and the historical Turning Point series, including You’re On Your Way, Teddy RooseveltStand Tall, Abe Lincoln; and Take the Lead, George Washington. You can visit her online at

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