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Download The Canal Builders: Making America's Empire at the Panama Canal Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Canal Builders: Making Americas Empire at the Panama Canal Audiobook, by Julie Greene Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (60 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Julie Greene Narrator: Karen White Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2009 ISBN: 9781400180677
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The Panama Canal has long been celebrated as a triumph of American engineering and technology. In The Canal Builders, Julie Greene reveals that this emphasis obscures a far more remarkable element of the canal's construction-the tens of thousands of workingmen and -women who traveled from around the world to build it. Drawing on research from around the globe, Greene explores the human dimensions of the Panama Canal story, revealing how it transformed perceptions of American empire at the dawn of the twentieth century. For a project that would secure America's position as a leading player on the world stage, the Panama Canal had controversial beginnings. When President Theodore Roosevelt seized rights to a stretch of Panama soon after the country gained its independence, many Americans saw it as an act of scandalous land-grabbing. Yet Roosevelt believed the canal could profoundly strengthen American military and commercial power while appearing to be a benevolent project for the benefit of the world. But first it had to be built. From 1904 to 1914, in one of the greatest labor mobilizations ever, working people traveled to Panama from all over the globe-from farms and industrial towns in the United States, sugarcane plantations in the West Indies, and rocky fields in Spain and Italy. When they arrived, they faced harsh and inequitable conditions: labor unions were forbidden, workers were paid differently based on their race and nationality (with the most dangerous jobs falling to West Indians), and anyone not contributing to the project could be deported. Yet Greene reveals how canal workers and their families managed to resist government demands for efficiency at all costs, forcing many officials to revise their policies. The Canal Builders recounts how the Panama Canal emerged as a positive symbol of American power and became a critical early step towards twentieth-century globalization. Yet by chronicling the contributions of canal workers from all over the world, Greene also reminds us of the human dimensions of a project more commonly remembered for its engineering triumphs. Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

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

    New York Times

  • “Like preceding chronicles of the construction of the Panama Canal, Greene’s account focuses on its feats of engineering, but in this case, social engineering.”


  • “A compelling story of imperial ambition, class conflict, racial injustice, and the ordinary men and women who remade the map of the world.”

    Kevin Boyle, author of Arc of Justice

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Linda Nichols | 10/3/2011

    " Great social history of the people who actually did the physical labor and those who supported them. This is an excellent and very readable book,with an Epilogue that gives a brief history of the Canal since its completion. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stephanie C | 1/19/2011

    " very interesting for a non fiction- a little long and drawn out and lots of detail "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Anne | 8/26/2010

    " Beautifully written, fascinating social history. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stephanie | 7/5/2010

    " very interesting for a non fiction- a little long and drawn out and lots of detail "

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About the Author

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. Educated at the universities of Michigan, Cambridge, and Yale, Greene has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies.

About the Narrator

Karen White is a classically trained actress who has been recording audiobooks since 1999. An Audie Award finalist, she has earned eight AudioFile Earphones Awards. Her reading of The Hemingses of Monticello by Annette Gordon-Reed was named one of AudioFile’s Best Audiobooks of 2009.