Subtitled ``The Story of the Panama Canal,'' this is a lively panorama of canal history, from pig-farmer-turned-explorer, Balboa, who discovered the Isthmus of Panama, to ambitious American President Theodore Roosevelt who seized the Isthmus and ``left Congress . . . to debate me.'' The decade-long American canal- building effort took engineering genius, an army of mosquito fighters, millions of dollars, and a devastating loss of lives to create ``the eighth wonder of the world.'' In a witty account that makes full use of entertaining detail, Parker (Working Frog, 1992, etc.) blends mesmerizing profiles, amiable illustrations (including wryly illustrated cautionary verse by a poet who succumbed to ``malaria's poisonous breath''), plus maps and diagrams of everything from scorpions and mosquitos to the canal itself.
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