cover image Panama Canal

Panama Canal

Judith St George. Putnam Publishing Group, $16.95 (159pp) ISBN 978-0-399-21637-4

Like St. George's The Mount Rushmore Story , this is a handsome, heavily illustrated history of a major American icon. Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, the Panama Canal was little more than a ``raw and muddy wound'' when it was begun; its completion was a political and technological feat. St. George makes excellent use of quotations from a veritable mountain of sources. She gives an interesting account of the battle won by Dr. William Gorgas against yellow fever in the region; and she makes revealing distinctions between the three chief engineers who, by turn, impeded or advanced the complex project. She seems reluctant, however, to voice her own views about such central themes as the race problems between the American engineers and the Indians who worked on the project, and the issue of sovereignty of the Canal. She also does not probe the political aftershock of President Roosevelt's ``gunboat diplomacy'' and other controversial policies. The pale historical photographs, first-rate diagrams and maps add tremendously to the impact of the book. Ages 10-up. (Jan.)