Dear Fellow AFRH Book Club Members,
The French company headed by Ferdinand, viscount de Lesseps began building a canal in Panama in 1881, but the French company's efforts failed by 1889. McCullough's detailed description/presentation of the inadequate equipment used during the construction attempt, the horrific tropical diseases(malaria & yellow fever), and the presence of unwanted corruption lead to the bankruptcy of this company in 1889.
The vast amount of information to digest of pages 101-241 in "Path Between The Seas" seems to lead me to discussing those individuals that were present...there trying to accomplish the unthinkable. Ferdinand de Lesseps made only two trips to Panama. He was a national hero in France and an international figure for his success in building the Suez Canal. When Ferdinand de Lesseps shared that a sea-level canal in Central America would afford opportunities, he had captured people's attention. Lesseps was 74 years of age at the time. Enter into the "Panama Arena" Philippe Bunau-Varilla. The year was 1884, and Bunau-Varilla was 26 years of age. He became the General Director of the entire French effort to build the Panama Canal, and at the time the largest engineering project anywhere in the world. Due to the unsurmountable hardships that confronted the French, the company liquidated in 1889. It is stated that there were over 20,000 deaths during this international attempt led by France. The International Congress for Study of an Interoceanic Canal that first met in Paris in 1879 to discuss the building of a canal across the Isthmus of Panama, led to much of what our Book Club will be reading in the next section of McCullough's, "Path Between The Seas."
Fascinating book that we are reading! I am hoping that we continue to be enthralled by the subject of history that we seemingly always tend to navigate to...