It was a beautiful Spring day. I decided to go to the lake to have my lunch.
A strong breeze whipped the water like a layer cake with cerulean frosting. Only a solitary black ant was crawling on the bench looking for food. Very relaxing!
After lunch I went to the community library to see what used books were for sale. They always had a large section of fiction and non-fiction.
However, some of the non-fiction works should have been classified as fiction. One book about the end times was filled with apocalyptic ramblings about Jesuits, Masons, etc.
Feeling an obligation to the literary classification of reality, I moved it to the fiction section. No pangs of guilt about my decision awakened within me.
However, imagine my surprise, when I found THE PATH BETWEEN THE SEAS: The Creation of The Panama Canal 1870-1914 by David McCullough in the fiction section. I was stunned.
That’s right—in the fiction section. I wonder about educational quality and the knowledge or lack of knowledge about American history which our schools are teaching the youth.
I still remember my American history teacher Mister D. from my junior year of secondary school. This ex-Marine tolerated no nonsense and demanded that we grasp what American history was about.
I remember he embarrassed my cousin Marcella once before class began when she and her boyfriend decided to kiss outside of his classroom—it was a very loud kiss. In his commanding voice, he told her to get into the classroom and find her seat because this type of behavior was not going to be allowed outside his classroom or in this school! Of course the school was a public institution with hundreds of students in our mountain hamlet tucked away in a beautiful valley.
One thing was for certain, Mr. D helped me to be prepared for the history classes which I would take in university by providing a good foundation—tests with short answers. I was able to CLEP American History without studying in my freshman year, was three years after taking his class.
Sadly, Mr. D passed away on February 26, 1999 at the age of 71. A great teacher, but a chain smoker! It was the smoking which took his extraordinary life.
Going back to the library, I purchased the book for $1. A very good buy since the book was in excellent shape…
One cannot have too many history books written by great authors like McCullough in their personal library…
G. D. Williams © 2017
THE PATH BETWEEN THE SEAS: The Creation of The Panama Canal 1870-1914
To build a 51-mile-long ship canal to replace that railroad seemed an easy matter to some investors. But, as McCullough notes, the construction project came to involve the efforts of thousands of workers from many nations over four decades; eventually those workers, laboring in oppressive heat in a vast malarial swamp, removed enough soil and rock to build a pyramid a mile high. In the early years, they toiled under the direction of French entrepreneur Ferdinand de Lesseps, who went bankrupt while pursuing his dream of extending France’s empire in the Americas.
The United States then entered the picture, with President Theodore Roosevelt orchestrating the purchase of the canal—but not before helping foment a revolution that removed Panama from Colombian rule and placed it squarely in the American camp.
The Panama Canal is a 77.1-kilometre ship canal in Panama that connects the Atlantic Ocean (via the Caribbean Sea) to the Pacific Ocean. The canal cuts across the Isthmus of Panama and is a key conduit for international maritime trade. There are locks at each end to lift ships up to Gatun Lake, an artificial lake created to reduce the amount of excavation work required for the canal, 26 metres above sea level. The current locks are 33.5 metres wide. A third, wider lane of locks is currently under construction and is due to open in 2016.
France began work on the canal in 1881, but had to stop because of engineering problems and high mortality due to disease. The United States took over the project in 1904, and took a decade to complete the canal, which was officially opened on August 15, 1914. One of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken, the Panama Canal shortcut greatly reduced the time for ships to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, enabling them to avoid the lengthy, hazardous Cape Horn route around the southernmost tip of South America via the Drake Passage or Strait of Magellan. The shorter, faster, and safer route to the U.S. West Coast and to nations in and around the Pacific Ocean allowed those places to become more integrated with the world economy. [from Wikipedia]
The Panama Canal is a 77.1-kilometre ship canal in Panama that connects the Atlantic Ocean (via the Caribbean Sea) to the Pacific Ocean.