The Path Between the Seas Characters & Character Analysis

David McCullough
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The man renowned for building the Suez Canal, Ferdinand de Lesseps is the force behind the French attempting the same grand project for the good of humankind in Panama, but is too far past his prime and too sure of his own charmed destiny to accept reality. Ferdinand follows the family tradition of diplomatic service and becomes interested in canal building in the 1830s while posted in Egypt. The title "Great Engineer" he receives at Suez is inaccurate, for Ferdinand has no technical background, no experience in finance, only modest skills as an administrator, and is easily bored by routine. De Lesseps is front-page news during a first U.S. tour but accomplishes little that's tangible. Nevertheless, the company formally incorporates in 1881, with Ferdinand as President, sets to work in Panama, and is beset with insoluble technical problems. Even as Ferdinand achieves the...

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This section contains 4,989 words
(approx. 13 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Path Between the Seas Study Guide
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