Parting the Desert by Zachary Karabell
The Creation of the Suez Canal

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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 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.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Zachary Karabell

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Zachary Karabell was educated at Columbia, Oxford and Harvard, where he received his PhD. in 1996. He is the author of several books, including The Last Campaign, which won the Chicago Tribune's Heartland Award, and Parting the Desert: The Creation of the Suez Canal. His essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Foreign Policy, and Newsweek. He lives with his wife and two children in New York, where he is an executive vice president of a leading asset management firm.
Published August 22, 2009 by Vintage. 328 pages
Genres: History, Computers & Technology, Professional & Technical, Science & Math, Political & Social Sciences, Nature & Wildlife, Business & Economics, Education & Reference, Travel, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction

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Karabell takes the Suez, completed in 1869, as one of the world’s grand constructions and more, a work with psychodramatic implications: “Lesseps himself would never have devoted himself so single-mindedly to implementing the project had he not suffered loss.

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Project MUSE

With the canal's descent into insignificance at the end of the twentieth century still in sight, Karabell narrates the triumphant story of the building of the Suez Canal the century before.

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