Friday, July 16, 2021

Reading about Panama

Some time ago, I pulled the Road Scholar [formerly known as Elderhostel] list for their Panama Canal week-long experience.

More recently, I started reading from the list. The first book I chose was older than I expected ... Panama: Yesterday and Today by Sue Core. It was published in 1945 by North River Press. The name of the publisher still exists ... but it is definitely a different kind of publisher. [Current web site - they now focus on the writings of Eliyahu M. [Eli] Goldratt who is known as the "father of the Theory of Constraints (TOC)," a process of ongoing improvement that identifies and leverages a system’s constraints in order to achieve the system’s goals.]

I looked for biographical information about the author...and had great difficulty finding anything. WorldCat and Amazon both list a fair number of books by her, but little biographical info. I think she may also be known as Sue/Susan Oman. But that requires some further work.

On to the book ... In reading the first two chapters, I went to double check the copyright date (1945). The author's description of the way the Spanish conquistadors destroyed the existing civilizations could have been written last week (2021). She expresses great admiration for the culture which existed in the 15th Century in the Americas. She talks about the systematic destruction of that culture.

Yet, when I got to the last chapters, her descriptions of those who worked to build the canal, and the description of society is incredibly dated, and loaded with inaccurate stereotypes. It was a reminder that this was written in a particular time and place.

In between, the book was a simplified description of the building of the Canal. And, yes, if you are following my reading list, you will note that I am in the process doing some reading about the building of the Canal. All of it is in hopeful preparation for a trip (as yet unplanned) to see the Canal, and going through it.