THE CANAL BUILDERS by Robert Payne

THE CANAL BUILDERS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This comprehensive book by a prolific author of many books, including Gold of Troy, a March 1959 Book-of-the-Month selection, deals with canals and the men who built them from the beginnings of history to the present day. Making the somewhat glib statement that all civilization (including mathematics and metallurgy) began with the first irrigating ditch, the author traces the development of canals from irrigation trenches dug by long dead Mesopotamian farmers to today's Suez and Panama, telling of lost canals and canals still in use, of the Corinth Canal and Roman aqueducts and inland waterways the world over, of the Erie Canal and the Manchester Ship Canal. He gives as well brief biographies of their most famous builders, the best of these being that of Leonardo da Vinci, whose system of locks is still used, and De Lesseps, builder of the Suez Canal, who failed together with thousands of investors and workmen, in Panama; surprisingly he pays little attention to Goethals, who did build the Panama Canal. Well written but overheavy with detail, this basically interesting book in part defeats its own purpose, drowning its readers in canals, but it should prove an excellent source-book and because of its author's name should find a place on popular reading lists; some engineers and devotees of history, however, may be defeated by its length and lack of selectivity.

Pub Date: May 12th, 1959
Publisher: Macmillan