The Panama Canal: Background information when reading The Secret History of Costaguana

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The Secret History of Costaguana

A Novel

by Juan Gabriel Vásquez

The Secret History of Costaguana
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jun 2011, 304 pages
    Aug 2012, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Sarah Sacha Dollacker

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About this Book

Beyond the Book:
The Panama Canal

Juan Gabriel Vásquez's novel, The Secret History of Costagauna, centers on the making of the Panama Canal. Constructed between 1904 and 1914, the Panama Canal is a vital shipping route that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Panama Canal map Though it only took ten years to construct the current canal, the idea for a waterway connecting the two oceans dates back to the 16th century. The route around the horn of South America was long, arduous, and costly. If it were possible to create a water route over the thin isthmus between North and South America, a great deal of money and time could be saved. There were discussions and some rudimentary attempts, but construction of a canal did not start in earnest until 1881 under the direction of Ferdinand de Lesseps when the French decided to create an all-water route, i.e., a sea-level canal without locks, in Columbia's province of Panama.

The French were encouraged in their idea for a sea-level canal by their success in ...

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