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The Canal Builders [Audio]


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Julie Greene is a professor of history at the University of Maryland at College Park and the author of Pure and Simple Politics: The American Federation of Labor and Political Activism, 1881-1917. Karen White has been narrating audiobooks since 1999, with more than two hundred to her credit. Honored to be included in AudioFile's Best Voices and Speaking of Audiobooks's Best Romance Audio 2012 and 2013, she is also an Audie Award finalist and has earned multiple AudioFile Earphones Awards.


With the centennial of the opening of the Panama Canal coming in five years, interest has resurfaced in a topic that has already prompted study, most notably David McCullough's best-selling The Path Between the Seas (1977). Whereas McCullough told the classic tale of the first major American engineering feat of the 20th century, these two new books recount only parts of the story. Nonetheless, The Canal Builders is more than a footnote. Greene, a labor historian (Univ. of Maryland, College Park; Pure and Simple Politics: The American Federation of Labor and Political Activism, 1881-1917) is well qualified to tell the story, from the bottom up, of the canal's construction. She interweaves newly unearthed documentary records in a social history linked to the emerging "American empire" and its Bull Moose Progressives, racial segregation, and labor movements. An exceptional writer, Greene has produced a narrative that ranges from the canal's inception up to the current political situation regarding Panama and the United States. By comparison, Seaway to the Future, a revision of Missal's dissertation from the University of Cologne, is a methodological footnote aimed at justifying a "cultural history of empire." Though he is a journalist in Germany, Missal's work here relies more on neo-Marxist theory and speculation than on uncovering new facts. Readers are bombarded with the word empire throughout the text. Yet arrogance and hubris explain as much as empire: the author might have been more to the point if he'd noted that this huge governmental task was an invitation to trouble owing to how labor and racial conditions prevailed in the United States then. Most libraries will suffice with McCullough's classic; larger ones may find interest in The Canal Builders. Only academic libraries with cultural history collections are likely to find interest in Seaway to the Future.-William D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ., Shreveport Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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

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