The Canal Builders: Making America's Empire at the Panama Canal

The Canal Builders: Making America's Empire at the Panama Canal

by Julie Greene


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A revelatory look at a momentous undertaking-from the workers' point of view

The Panama Canal has long been celebrated as a triumph of American engineering and ingenuity. In The Canal Builders, Julie Greene reveals that this emphasis has obscured a far more remarkable element of the historic enterprise: the tens of thousands of workingmen and workingwomen who traveled from all around the world to build it. Greene looks past the mythology surrounding the canal to expose the difficult working conditions and discriminatory policies involved in its construction. Drawing extensively on letters, memoirs, and government documents, the book chronicles both the struggles and the triumphs of the workers and their fami­lies. Prodigiously researched and vividly told, The Canal Builders explores the human dimensions of one of the world's greatest labor mobilizations, and reveals how it launched America's twentieth-century empire.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143116783
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/30/2010
Series: Penguin History of American Life Series
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 1,203,084
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Julie Greene is a professor of history at the University of Maryland whose area of research is labor in the United States, immigration, and empire. She and historian Ira Berlin cofounded and now codirect the Center for Global Migration Studies at the University of Maryland, which is dedicated to generating knowledge of the history and politics of global migrations. Greene is the author of The Canal Builders: Making America's Empire at the Panama Canal, which was awarded the James A. Rawley Prize for the best book on the history of race relations by the Organization of American Historians.

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“A telling portrait of exploitation, privilege and insularity, backed by a mountain of fresh research." —-The New York Times

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Canal Builders: Making America's Empire at the Panama Canal 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I struggled to get past the constant references to race and class and struggle. Somehow behind the complaining of the workers and the negative comments of Gorgas' wife there was actually a canal being built. Never mind that the men (sorry, the white men) who built the canal did the super human. Never mind that the USA triumphed where all others would likely have failed. What is important is a detailed examination of where the common laborer slept and what he ate and how he was treated on this train ride every day. Amazing. No context. Just judgment from the 21st century. I am currently employed as a Chief Engineer building the new locks at Panama. I wanted a work of history to help me understand the project from a historical aspect. I have read McCullough's work; thankfully first. He did not gloss over the failings of the United States, the treatment of black workers, or any number of shortcomings that by today's standards we would frown on. But by heavens he did acknowledge the triumph of America and American ideals over the near impossible. I wish I had read a little about Ms Greene before I bought this book. Its horrid. I would not recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn anything about the Panama Canal. Its full of class and race bating and adds nothing to the record other than the overwhelming feeling of needing a shower. I am an immigrant to the USA coming to it in the mid sixties. I don't understand the need of the American elite to continuously destroy itself. Immigrants are attracted to Americas strength. We know there are weaknesses; had there not been any where we came from we would not be Americans. But by heavens stop it already. This book is an embarrassment. I cant strongly enough recommend against it. But by all means read McCullough's masterpiece from 1977. It informs and inspires.
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