A few weeks ago, I finished The Path Between the Seas by David McCullough. It's an outstanding and thorough history of the building of the Panama Canal. A few interesting tidbits:
- The French are the first ones to attempt building the canal.
- The Americans wanted to build the canal through Nicaragua, not Panama.
- Much was learned about Yellow Fever and Malaria during the construction of the canal.
- Some people wanted to build a sea-level canal—as you know, there are locks in the final version (i.e., it's not sea-level).
- The changes in the tides of the two oceans—Pacific and Atlantic—are not the same.
- The West end of the canal empties out into the Atlantic Ocean and the East end into the Pacific, opposite what one might think.
Just today, I polished off The Rivers Ran East by Leonard Clark. It's an adventure—far beyond any I wish to have—about his search in the western Amazon region for El Dorado. Here's a random quote from the beginning of the first chapter which I thought was pretty fantastic—you may or may not: “I simply had to have that gold, and with the same unreasoning desperation that grips a man who loves a woman—he has got to have that one woman, though a billion others exist in the world.”