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The author describes the history of the canal, one of the oldest engineering enterprises considered by civilized man. He relates how ancient Egypt, Persia, and Rome all succeeded in linking the Mediterranean with the Red Sea before it became one of the great issues of the mid-nineteenth century. With great clarity, and not without irony, the author traces the inner story of de Lesseps' project and triumph, and goes on to show how his ideal of an inviolable waterway dedicated to the service of man gradually became over-shadowed by war and the political ambitions of the great powers. The latter part of the book deals with the Second World War, the Suez Crisis of 1956, and the Six-Day War. First the clash between an Egypt proud of her newly won independence and a Britain contending to maintain the strategic interest of the Commonwealth and the North Atlantic Treaty powers. Secondly, the Arab-Israel conflict which has led to the longest continuous closure of the Canal. This, then, is an excellent book for all those who wish a concise survey of the background, history, and politics of the Canal.
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