logo: Matthew Parker: Hell's Gorge



'Not only an absolutely gripping account of the canal's conception and construction but also notice that a brilliant new popular historian has arrived on the scene - an author of wide-ranging intelligence and deep humanity. This is exemplary history, vigorously told with a respect for complexity that enriches rather than obscures the pleasure of a great story.' Tim Rutten, Los Angeles Times, 12 March 2008 Full LA Times review

‘A monumental, assiduously researched work … A gripping narrative that never lets go of your lapels … Panoramic in its geographic, scientific and political scope, and focusing closely on the sensitive social and labour issues, Panama Fever is a marvellously comprehensive work about an epic engineering triumph.’ Chris Patsilelis, Philadelphia Inquirer, 20 April 2008

‘A detailed study of the myriad personalities and design plans associated with the work … [Parker’s] limpid prose is best suited to accounts of the dangers the laborers faced.’ The New Yorker, 21 April 2008 Full New Yorker review

‘A readable, almost plain, yet thoroughly amazing account.’ Todd Seavey, New York Post, 30 March 2008 Full New York Post review

‘A worthy successor to The Path Between the Seas … A fine history, complete in both technological and human dimensions.’ Booklist 15 February 2008

‘Well told …  [the author] skilfully uses personal accounts and is excellent at portraying what it was like to work – and die – in Panama … A clear and readable account of a tremendous story.’ Bruce Ramsay, Seattle Times, 21 March 2008 Full Seattle Times review

‘A fascinating account … highly readable and enjoyable as [the author] combines historical detail, about the working conditions, racism within the event, and combating the rampant diseases and infection. The result provides the reader with a deeper appreciation of the magnitude of the effort and the financial and human cost of such a feat.’ Timothy Baghurst, San Jose Mercury News, 28 March 2008

‘Engrossing, sometimes alarming … the characters colourful and unexpected.’ Tom Mackin, Star-Ledger, 16 March 2008

 ‘A distinctive history of the dramatic and drastic battle to build the canal. Parker’s book is unique because aside from telling the fascinating story gracefully and with style he captures the anguish and grim reality of those consumed by the endeavor. He depicts clearly and concisely the human price that was paid. He is one of the few to acknowledge the tremendous contributions made by many Jamaicans, Barbadians and other West Indians who flocked to the Isthmus to earn a living but became as enamoured as any group with the magnitude and nobility of their task. The book in enriched by Parker’s extensive use of first hand sources such as letters sent back home to the Caribbean Islands, the United States, England and other countries. They relate the daily reality and routines of tens of thousands of common men and women who succeeded admirably.
… It is a refreshing and inspiring story elegantly written.’ Professor Gustavo Mellander, author of Charles Edward Magoon, the Panama Years and The United States in Panama Politics.

'Parker begins this engrossing narrative of the construction of what Theodore Roosevelt called one of the great works of the world well before the 20th century. This is not a narrow history of mechanical engineering but a well-researched and satisfying account of imperial vision and social inequity.' Publishers Weekly 11 May 2007

'Parker's epic story, from the 18th century to the present day, is awesome' The Times

‘Matthew Parker intertwines the various strands of the story — personal and national, political and financial, geographical and technological — with finesse. Best of all, his prose somehow manages to infect the reader with the Panama fever itself. It is no mean achievement.’ Robert Stewart, Spectator, 5 May 2007
Full Spectator review

Excellent … the story is an epic one, and Parker has brilliantly done justice to every aspect’ Frank McLynn, Independent 18 May 2007

‘Matthew Parker has picked a fascinating subject and written a book worthy of it. His narrative is compelling, his ability to weave a pattern from the topics he has to cover quite remarkable. It’s a story of engineering, labour relations, disease, financial crises, politics, idealism and skullduggery. It is peopled with a host of characters, some heroic, others corrupt, almost all out of the ordinary. There isn’t a dull page, and if this book isn’t a candidate for all the non-fiction prizes going, I shall be disappointed.’ Allan Massie, Daily Telegraph 3 March 2007
Full Telegraph review

‘Parker’s epic story, from the 18th century to the present day, is awesome.’ Iain Finlayson The Times 3 March 2007

‘Parker’s great forte in Panama Fever is to bring this complex story to life through a succession of vivid characters.’  Philip Hoare, Sunday Telegraph 25 March 2007
Full Sunday Telegraph review

‘Parker has written the Panama story for a new generation. He quotes extensively from letters and diaries of ordinary workers writing home to their families. And it is their heartfelt views on the conditions in which they lived and worked that really bring this book to life’
The Economist 24 February 2007

‘Matthew Parker has written an informative and enjoyable book, which mixes social and labour history with the history of science, medicine, and colonialism. He is remarkably sensitive to the plight of the thousands who worked and died in the canal zone, especially the West Indians.’ Irish Times 17 March 2007

‘Panama Fever was infectious, as readers of this gripping book will find.’
The Scotsman 7 April 2007
Full Scotsman review

‘First rate … Matthew Parker has done his subject proud, and his book is for anyone with an interest in the making of the modern world.’ George Rosie, Sunday Herald

 ‘[an] eye-opening account … Parker guides readers through the complicated story with a sure sense of both the larger narrative and telling detail.’ Sunday Times 1 April 2007

‘The extraordinary story of western man’s compulsion to wrestle with nature in the central American swamps and rainforests.’
John Vidal, Guardian 14 April 2007
Full Guardian review

‘Should be required reading for anyone interested in history … timely and thrillingly told.’
Fiammetta Rocco, Literary Review April 2007

'Brimming with quotations from letters, diaries and contemporaneous news reports, the book makes vivid the various highlights of the Canal's history.'
Ernest R. May Times Literary Supplement 21 September 2007



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