The Epic Story of One of the Greatest Human Achievements of All Time-- the Building of the Panama Canalby Matthew Parker
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 enthusiastically signed 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.
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"Starred Review. [An] engrossing narrative of what Theodore Roosevelt called 'one of the great works of the world.'" - Publishers Weekly.
"An epic tale of human folly and endeavor, beautifully told and researched." - John le Carré.
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Matthew Parker was born in El Salvador in 1970 to an expatriate family and while growing up lived in Britain, Norway and Barbados. He read English at Balliol College Oxford, then worked in a number of roles in book publishing in London from salesman to commissioning editor.
His first book, published in 2000, was about the Battle of Britain. Then followed Monte Cassino, Panama Fever, The Sugar Barons and Goldeneye. He is currently working on a new book, due to be published in August 2015, that tells the extraordinary story of Willoughbyland, the forgotten seventeenth-century English colony in Surinam that was exchanged with the Dutch for New York.
When not writing/staring out of the window, he loves making sushi, pubs, growing stuff and visiting remote places.
He is a member of the Authors Cricket Club, and wrote a chapter of A Season of English Cricket from Hackney to Hambledon. He is also a contributor to the forthcoming Oxford Companion to Sweets.
He lives in East London with his wife, three children and annoying dog.
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