Parting the Desert: The Creation of the Suez Canal

Parting the Desert The Creation of the Suez Canal Award winning historian Zachary Karabell tells the epic story of the greatest engineering feat of the nineteenth century the building of the Suez Canal and shows how it changed the world The dream was

  • Title: Parting the Desert: The Creation of the Suez Canal
  • Author: Zachary Karabell
  • ISBN: 9780375708121
  • Page: 399
  • Format: Paperback
  • Award winning historian Zachary Karabell tells the epic story of the greatest engineering feat of the nineteenth century the building of the Suez Canal and shows how it changed the world.The dream was a waterway that would unite the East and the West, and the ambitious, energetic French diplomat and entrepreneur Ferdinand de Lesseps was the mastermind behind the projectAward winning historian Zachary Karabell tells the epic story of the greatest engineering feat of the nineteenth century the building of the Suez Canal and shows how it changed the world.The dream was a waterway that would unite the East and the West, and the ambitious, energetic French diplomat and entrepreneur Ferdinand de Lesseps was the mastermind behind the project Lesseps saw the project through fifteen years of financial challenges, technical obstacles, and political intrigues He convinced ordinary French citizens to invest their money, and he won the backing of Napoleon III and of Egypt s prince Muhammad Said But the triumph was far from perfect the construction relied heavily on forced labor and technical and diplomatic obstacles constantly threatened completion The inauguration in 1869 captured the imagination of the world The Suez Canal was heralded as a symbol of progress that would unite nations, but its legacy is mixed Parting the Desert is both a transporting narrative and a meditation on the origins of the modern Middle East.

    One thought on “Parting the Desert: The Creation of the Suez Canal”

    1. an excellent, and rather sad, reading. Not only covering the story of how the Suez Canal came to being, but also describing the contemporary politics and interactions covering players based in Egypt, France, Ottoman Empire and England. The last two chapters are sad as they briefly summarized the unfulfilled dreams that were set for the Canal and it's impact on Egypt's, and global economy and geopolitics. It is a must read book

    2. Karabell is at his best when he's giving broad strokes history. I know very little about nineteenth century France, so I can't judge his accuracy, but the background he gives on Saint-Simonianism and the general intellectual climate of the era is fascinating. I enjoyed, too, the political history of the constant fencing between France and England, and the sections that looked at the rise of an economic middle class with money to spend on small-scale investing were interesting.But what he's not v [...]

    3. The story itself is interesting, but I just could not get into the style of the author. The journey was frustrating, because I had really high hopes for the book. Perhaps others will find the book enjoyable, but it was just a struggle to get through.

    4. “Nearby is another orphaned stone pedestal, where a statue of Ferdinand de Lesseps once stood.”With Parting the Desert, historian Zachary Karabell pens an enthralling history of the greatest engineering feat of the nineteenth century: the construction of the Suez Canal. Linking Occident and Orient, the canal becomes the cause célèbre of nations, wrapped in the great imperial chess match between England and France and inexorably bound to the aspirations of an upstart Egypt and their masters [...]

    5. Fairly good, if rarely rising to the level of greatness. The book gets somewhat repetitive, at times, in telling of the extended struggles over money and political support. It features some interesting bits of history along the way, though. For example, the much-different character of pre-fundamentalist Arabian societies compared with what is at least the prevailing image of those societies today. And the real, conscious effort made by leadership in some of those societies to adopt “western” [...]

    6. "Parting the Desert" is a quick read that will fill-in the interested on the Suez Canal. However it reads more like an ode to Ferdinand de Lesseps and could have been his biography.Frankly, I believe the story would have been better told if there had been a larger discussion of the technology and management developed rather than the battle of egos that delayed the project. A better story of accomplishment is "A Thread Across the Ocean by John Steele Gordon about the first transatlantic cable. In [...]

    7. Recommended for - Readers looking for the political history of the Suez Canal.Not Recommended for - Technical detail seekers.The creation of the Suez Canal was a monumental achievement. Ferdinand de Lesseps went through great efforts to complete his "borrowed" ambition.The book describes the political atmosphere during the creation of the canal.The creation of the suez canal company and its operations are followed through the creation of the canal.Those looking for elaborate technical descriptio [...]

    8. Not just about the building of the Suez Canal, this book manages to teach a lot of history. What was the relationship between Egypt and the Ottoman Empire (in theory and in reality)? Why did a canal built by a Frenchman and funded by an Egyptian leader end up owned and managed by the British? Considering that, why were British politicians so vehemently against the building of the Canal? A very interesting glimpse of history and an excellent history of the building of the Canal.

    9. Boring take on what sounded like it would have been an interesting subject. Mostly about the byzantine wanderings of Lessep, the Canal's driving force, through the politics and marketing of the canal, with pedestrian writing.Brings to mind Steve Martin's line from Planes Trains and Automobiles: "These little stories you tell. They should have a point!"

    10. Very detailed overviewInasmuch as I worked in Ismalia and lived two years on theBitter Lake, I was fascinated by the references to them. The back and forth dialogue of the history was a bit wordy.

    11. A good primer which is largely narrative in nature. At times Karabell can be rather vague and paint broad strokes which seem rather lopsided (perspective wise), but its not exactly an academic text and probably a compromise for easy reading.

    12. A terrific book, engaging history at it's best, and incidentally almost a primer on the source of discord between the Arab world and the West

    13. Great overview of the people and politics involved. For me, it's only 3 stars because I wanted way more engineering and that was mostly glossed over.

    14. More about moving minds of political leaders and investors than sand. Shows that canals were the monorail fever of the 19th century.

    15. Very dissapointed. There was virtually no technical content or any details about the construction methods, use of labor, machinery, etc. There were no diagrams, there was not even a map!

    16. Definitely one of the best history books I've ever read. The story is written so compellingly as to be almost novel-like.

    17. A very good and enjoyable read. As one other reviewer said previously, the author does not waste his words or sentences to convey his intended meaning.

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