The French had tried — and failed — to build a canal in the s, finally giving in after years of fighting a recalcitrant landscape, ferocious disease, the deaths of some 20, workers and spiralling costs. But the U. First, the U. The Isthmian Canal Commission, which managed the project, started by working aggressively to discipline the landscape and its inhabitants.
They drained swamps, killed mosquitoes and initiated a whole-scale sanitation project. But this was just the beginning. The destruction was devastating. Whole villages and forests were flooded, and a railway constructed in the s had to be relocated. The greatest challenge of all was the Culebra Cut, now known as the Gaillard Cut, an artificial valley excavated through some 13 kilometres of mountainous terrain.
More than million cubic metres of dirt had to be moved; the work consumed more than eight million kilograms of dynamite in three years alone.
Imagine digging a trench more than 90 metres wide, and 10 storeys deep, over the length of something like football fields. In temperatures that were often well over 30 degrees Celsius, with sometimes torrential rains. And with equipment from Dynamite, picks and coal-fired steam shovels. The Panama Canal was built by thousands of contract workers, mostly from the Caribbean.
They lived like second-class citizens, subject to a Jim Crow-like regime, with bad food, long hours and low pay. And constant danger. In the s, filmmaker Roman Foster went looking for these workers; most of the survivors were in their 90s. But it contains some of the only first-hand testimony of what it was like to dig through the spiny backbone of Panama in the name of the U.
Constantine Parkinson was one of the workers who told his story to Foster, his voice firm but his face barely able to look at the camera. He started work on the canal at 15 years old; like many, he may have lied about his age. He was soon a brakeman, probably on a train carrying rocks to a breakwater.
On July 16, , a day he would never forget, he lost his right leg, and his left heel was crushed. However, not to fret. Your grandson will be taken care of as soon as he [is able to work], even in a wheelchair. At the outset, the U. For the most part, their gamble worked. In , after several years of construction, the Isthmian Canal Commission finally began to apply more specific compensation policies. They also contracted New York manufacturer A. Despite all of these restrictions, by , A.
Marks had supplied more than artificial limbs. But this compensation was still woefully inadequate, and many men fell through its deliberately wide cracks. Wilfred McDonald, who was probably from Jamaica or Barbados, told his story in a letter to the Canal administrators on May 25, I has a Mother wich is a Whido, and too motherless childrens which During The Time when i was working I was the only help to the familys.
Ken Rossignol has pieced together newspaper editorials and a plethora of articles on the subject of the canal, dating back several years before , to when the original plans, arguments, and questions first arose about making a slice through land, disconnecting two continents forever Plus there's a lot of good photos alongside the documents to help you better visualize what it was like building the canal over a hundred years ago. The way that Rossignol doesn't write about the history, but shares the history itself with you is a unique approach; it makes the reader feel like they're getting to research and discover history from its original form, directly from the eyes of the people who lived it!
It's a good read! And for a history book, the ending nabbed me. It set me into a fit of laughter -- just you wait. Nov 20, Andrew Western rated it really liked it.
Good book by Ken Rossignol. I have only one complaint. I am not sure if the problem was due to the conversion to ebook format or what. The pictures and other graphics included were a bit hard to see on my tablet. Again, these might be easier with the printed version of the book, but I am not sure. I found the rest of the book quite interesting and I learned a lot more about the Panama Canal and its history that I did not know before.
Jul 17, Karin rated it really liked it. I have been to Panama and also gone through the Canal. In spite all the speakers I heard, I never learned a small portion of what I learned from Ken Rossignol's book. This book is not for the light reader. I wished for a large map of the area so that I could follow along as the names and countries changed. I recommend it for someone who really enjoys reading about history.
Mar 21, keith sullivan rated it really liked it. In summary I found this book very interesting.
7 Fascinating Facts About the Panama Canal
It had a few slow spots. I was taking a cruise this year and wanted to know the history of the canal. This book gave me a great insight into the building, politics, and struggles to complete this great water way. If you like history pick up a copy. Feb 20, Chaplain Stanleigh Chapin rated it liked it.
Enjoyable for real students of the carnal I have been a fan of th Panama canal and it's stories since an early flight I've it. I think it was a bit of over kill that almost forty percent of novel was on the mistakes of the early attempts and could have condensed. Mar 04, Judy added it. Feb 24, Vikas Datta rated it really liked it. Brings the effort behind the achievement to vivid life. Judy rated it really liked it Feb 21, Brenda Kamper rated it really liked it Mar 24, Mona Pence rated it it was amazing Sep 24, Leo rated it really liked it Feb 09, Thea rated it liked it Jul 10, Mercedes Prieto rated it it was amazing Jan 17, Rachel rated it it was ok Apr 25, Starfighter rated it liked it Sep 08, Larry Basden rated it liked it Apr 18, Gus Philpott rated it really liked it Oct 30, Don rated it liked it Aug 07, Mark Lindgren rated it liked it Aug 03, Debby Detering rated it liked it Jan 10, Harold rated it it was ok Oct 02, Sabine rated it it was ok Feb 07, Khosek rated it it was ok Sep 02, Sam rated it liked it Dec 14, John rated it it was ok Nov 09, About Ken Rossignol.
Ken Rossignol. Writing in true crime, maritime history and cruise thrillers occupies most of Ken Rossignol's time. As a maritime history speaker, Rossignol enjoys meeting audiences around the world and discussing the original news stories of the sinking of the RMS Titanic and other maritime history topics. In recent years Rossignol has appeared on more than a dozen ships in the Pacific, Atlantic, Mediterranean an Writing in true crime, maritime history and cruise thrillers occupies most of Ken Rossignol's time.
Panama Canal, World's Greatest Engineering Project, Turns | HuffPost
In recent years Rossignol has appeared on more than a dozen ships in the Pacific, Atlantic, Mediterranean and Caribbean discussing the stories of the heroes of the Titanic, the explorations of the new world voyagers, the Bermuda Triangle and the history of piracy. The story of the St. The book includes nearly editorial cartoons that appeared over the years. Books by Ken Rossignol. Trivia About Panama No trivia or quizzes yet. Welcome back. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account.
Dirt from the Panama Canal.