The Panama Canal

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Children's Literature - Katie Kemple
The explorer Vasco Nunez de Balboa originally sparked the idea for a canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in 1513. It would take more than 300 years for the idea to gain momentum at the start of the California Gold Rush. A first attempt by the French, led by Ferdinand de Lesseps, failed due to disease, rusted machinery and design flaws. The United States purchased the Panama Canal Company from the French in 1902. The U.S. team improved upon the French design by adding a system of locks to raise ships. They also protected laborers from yellow fever and malaria by removing mosquitoes from the work area. The Panama Canal officially opened in 1914. Other historical events covered include the Panamanian riots of 1964, the Torrijos-Carter Treaties, overthrow of Manual Noriega and the shift from U.S. to Panamanian control of the canal in 1999. This "Cornerstones of Freedom" volume brings to life the long, fraught efforts to construct and manage the Panama Canal. Swift moving chapters filled with archival photos, illustrations, and boxed highlights make for an engaging read. Useful references include profiles of the key players, a time line, map of events, online resources and a glossary of terms. The book does not include an image of the Panama Canal in relation to the United States, South America or Europe. Readers may find this omission frustrating as they attempt to gain a better understanding of the canal's global importance. Reviewer: Katie Kemple
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