Book ID: CBB001421566

The Big Ditch: How America Took, Built, Ran, and Ultimately Gave Away the Panama Canal (2011)


Maurer, Noel (Author)
Yu, Carlos (Author)

Princeton University Press

Publication Date: 2011
Physical Details: xv + 420 pp.; ill.; maps; notes; bibl.
Language: English

On August 15, 1914, the Panama Canal officially opened for business, forever changing the face of global trade and military power, as well as the role of the United States on the world stage. The Canal's creation is often seen as an example of U.S. triumphalism, but Noel Maurer and Carlos Yu reveal a more complex story. Examining the Canal's influence on Panama, the United States, and the world, The Big Ditch deftly chronicles the economic and political history of the Canal, from Spain's earliest proposals in 1529 through the final handover of the Canal to Panama on December 31, 1999, to the present day. The authors show that the Canal produced great economic dividends for the first quarter-century following its opening, despite massive cost overruns and delays. Relying on geographical advantage and military might, the United States captured most of these benefits. By the 1970s, however, when the Carter administration negotiated the eventual turnover of the Canal back to Panama, the strategic and economic value of the Canal had disappeared. And yet, contrary to skeptics who believed it was impossible for a fledgling nation plagued by corruption to manage the Canal, when the Panamanians finally had control, they switched the Canal from a public utility to a for-profit corporation, ultimately running it better than their northern patrons.

Reviewed By

Review LaFeber, Walter (2012) Review of "The Big Ditch: How America Took, Built, Ran, and Ultimately Gave Away the Panama Canal". Journal of Global History (pp. 336-337). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Carse, Ashley
Marixa Lasso
James Fairhead
Joan Flores-Villalobos
Suisman, David
Strasser, Susan
Journal of Global History
Social Studies of Science
Journal of the History of Biology
Environmental History
American Quarterly
Harvard University Press
University of Pennsylvania Press
Yale University Press
Yale University Library
University of California Press
The MIT Press
Panama Canal
Cross-cultural interaction; cultural influence
Technology and culture
Sea travel
Von Braun, Wernher
Time Periods
20th century
19th century
21st century
20th century, early
Early modern
20th century, late
United States
Southern states (U.S.)
Indian Ocean
West Indies
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
East India Company (English)

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