Panama Fever: The Epic Story of One of the Greatest Human Achievements of All Time--The Building of the Panama Canal

Overview

A thrilling tale of exploration, conquest, money, politics, and medicine

The Panama Canal was the costliest undertaking in human history. It literally required moving mountains, breaking the back of the great range that connects North and South America. Begun by the French in 1880, its successful completion in 1914 by the Americans marked the end of the Victorian Age and the beginning of the “American Century.”

The building of the Panama Canal ...

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Overview

A thrilling tale of exploration, conquest, money, politics, and medicine

The Panama Canal was the costliest undertaking in human history. It literally required moving mountains, breaking the back of the great range that connects North and South America. Begun by the French in 1880, its successful completion in 1914 by the Americans marked the end of the Victorian Age and the beginning of the “American Century.”

The building of the Panama Canal was a project whose gestation spanned hundreds of years. Columbus himself searched for a way to get to the Pacific across the narrow isthmus of Central America. For centuries, monarchs, presidents, businessmen, and explorers all struggled to find such a passage, knowing that whoever controlled it would exert unsurpassed control over global trade, and therefore the fate of nations.

The first history of this mighty achievement in nearly thirty years, Panama Fever draws on diaries, memoirs, letters, and other contemporary accounts, bringing the experience of those who built the canal vividly to life. The massive project riveted public attention: “Panama Fever” spread throughout the Western world. Politicians and businessmen engaged in high-stakes international diplomacy in order to influence its location, path, ownership, and construction. Meanwhile, ditch-diggers, machinists, drivers, engineers, and foremen from all over the world rushed to take advantage of high wages and the chance to be a part of history.

But the grim reality of Panama – searing heat, torrential rains, fatal mud slides, and malarial mosquitoes – soon caught up with them. More than 25,000 of those who enthusiasticallysigned on as workers succumbed to dysentery, yellow fever, and malaria, giving a fatal twist to the meaning of “Panama Fever.” The truly horrific toll unleashed a second race to find a cure so the canal could be completed. The discoveries of the heroic doctors who battled these diseases would lead to a sea change in the way infectious diseases were treated, thus paving the way for the tremendous medical advances of the twentieth century.

Filled with remarkable characters, including Teddy Roosevelt, Ulysses S. Grant, and Ferdinand de Lesseps, the French genius who built the Suez Canal and almost snatched Panama out from under American control, Panama Fever is an epic historical adventure that shows how a small but fiercely contested strip of land in a largely unknown Central American nation suddenly made the world a smaller place and launched the era of American global dominance.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This account of the building of the Panama Canal-an adventure saga, political account and horror story in equal measure-has a workaday sensibility. William Dufris does not boom or simper, and he does little in the way of accents or voices. Instead, he pounds, parries and plods his way through Parker's prose, doing no harm, but not doing the story many favors either. Instead, he pulls back every other sentence or so, reaching for a high point or coming to a sudden halt. The work is solid, but it is hard to feel Dufris's connection to the book. He gamely does his best, but the sum total of his reading is underwhelming. Simultaneous release with the Doubleday hardcover (Reviews, Nov. 5).
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781602833562
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/26/2008
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged Edition
  • Product dimensions: 5.14 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 1.52 (d)

Meet the Author

Matthew Parker is the author of The Battle of Britain and Monte Cassino. He lives in London, England.

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2008

    History as written by a journalist

    This book is merely a rehashing of information that has already been published many times over. It has a sameness as many other histories by journalists trying to be historians and ingloriously failing. The author has regurgitated the old myth fostered by liberal historians as well as those with an extreme far left agenda that the Panamanian revolution of 1903 is primarily a North American affair and a sad example of Yankee interference in Central American political affairs, with the intent of gaining the right to build the Panama Canal after negotiating a lopsided treaty with a virtually powerless Panama.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2008

    Memorable

    Unlike some works of non-fiction with too much data and little connection to the events, this book remains indelibly painted into ones memory. The author is able to write the words that provide the mental pictures of what building the canal involved from all perspectives - human, physical, and emotional.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2008

    great novel and documentary

    Panama Fever is the best book I have ever read regarding the Panama Canal. The book is a documentary in the form of a novel or maybe it is a novel in the form of a documentary. It was wonderful reading from start to finish. The author incorporates the lives and backgrounds of so many of the people involved in that great undertaking into the book. I got to know them. The engineers, the workers, where they came from, how they lived and perservered. And best of all was the description of the area to be developed. Most of us know something about the Panama Canal but this book is definitely eye opening reading. Facts and figures that were easily understood and put into perspective, while enjoying the true characters involved. The rainfall, density of the forests, amounts of concrete, how did they do it? Great book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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