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Publisher's Summary

The building of the Panama Canal was one of the greatest engineering feats in human history. A tale of exploration, conquest, money, politics, and medicine, Panama Fever charts the challenges that marked the long, labyrinthine road to the building of the canal. Drawing on a wealth of new materials and sources, Matthew Parker brings to life the men who recognized the impact a canal would have on global politics and economics, and adds new depth to the familiar story of Teddy Roosevelt's remarkable triumph in making the waterway a reality.

As thousands of workers succumbed to dysentery, yellow fever, and malaria, scientists raced to stop the deadly epidemics so that work could continue. The treatments they developed changed the course of medical history.

The opening of the Panama Canal in 1914 spelled the end of the Victorian Age and the beginning of the "American Century".

Panama Fever brilliantly captures the innovative thinking and backbreaking labor, as well as the commercial and political interests, that helped make America a global power.

©2008 Matthew Parker; (P)2008 BBC Audiobooks America

Critic Reviews

"Matthew Parker intertwines the various strands of the story - personal and national, political and financial, geographical and technological - with finesse. Best of all, his prose somehow manages to infect the reader with the Panama fever itself." (The Spectator)

What members say

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  • Overall

Good book, marginal narrator

Great story. The narrator got in the way by imposing overdone and inconsistent accents on french and spanish words. Given that the listeners speak english the pronunciations really get in the way. There are errors and at least one restart that was not edited out. The author deserves a rerecording of this work.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Is there a francophile in the mix?

Interesting tale of how the canal was built.

Well read except for the many French phrases. I cannot imagine not choosing a narrator with a French background or at the very list someone working in the creation of the audio book, who is familiar with French pronunciation.

The funniest part of the book was the phrase "annees horribles" which was so butchered it made me laugh for days. "A-NESS hor-RIB-ble-less" moved the focus from the narrative, to the narrator and surprise over the choice of this one versus other people who could have handled the language changes. A simple consultation and phonetic aides would have made the French entirely possible. This was very distracting considering how much French the author included.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Charlotte
  • Grants, NM, United States
  • 04-23-10

Nice Surprise

After I had bought this I wondered if I really wanted to hear about them building a cannal but when I listened to it I found it very intresting. Both author and narrator did a great job of making the story both intresting and informative.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Great story of the history of the Panama Canal

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

The history and events Mr. Parker presents are interesting, noteworthy, and descriptive of all that went into the history of the Panama Canal from its earliest conception to the eventual take over of the project by the United States.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Panama Fever?

The description of the life of the workers was very real and descriptive. I could almost envision in my mind's eye what life was like.

What about Oliver Wyman’s performance did you like?

It was clear, understandable, and well done.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It was history and having lived int he Panama Canal Zone as a child, I could revisit Panama and learn things that I was not aware of...

  • Overall
  • Andy
  • Westport, CT, United States
  • 09-01-10

big dig

Solid and interesting story about the challenges faced, first by the French, and then by the Americans to build the Panama Canal. Matthew Parker provides great detail about the personalities involved and challenges faced in making the canal a reality. Very good narration.

  • Overall
  • R. Hornung
  • Midland, Michigan, United States
  • 05-21-10

True History-so amazing you couldn't make this up!

Politics, Business, Horror, Geography, Travel, Ecology, Science, Mystery, Economics; this story has it all. Incredibly well narrated. Very apropos to current events - ecological troubles, businesses too big to fail, politics controlling events rather than logic and economics, the cost/benefit of "Big Science", labor problems of all types, and entire nations' economies dependent upon this project and it's jobs.

Surely, during the time period over which the canal was created, the project was on a scale of and maybe larger than America's effort to "land a man on the moon and bring him safely back to earth..."

The connections that I learned during this story that I had never known about. The Soo Locks (I'm in Michigan), health discoveries, the French architect, Eiffel, and the connection with the Suez canal. To think that these 150 year old structures and designs are still working splendidly and how dependent the world economy is on them. Totally amazing.

  • Overall

good story

i enjoyed the story mostly, but it was a bit tedious at points

1 of 2 people found this review helpful