From the award-winning author of American Canopy, an account of the world’s longest road, the Pan-American Highway, and the epic quest to link North and South America, a story of commerce, technology, politics, and the divergent fates of the Americas in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Meticulously researched and vividly recounted ... [Rutkow' combines a historian's eye for detail with a storyteller's skill at bringing to life the dynamic political and social forces that conceived and constructed the international corridor ... a worthy, thought-provoking read for anyone interested in learning about a time when the 'Colossus of the North' opened its doors in friendship and unity to the rest of the Americas.
Rutkow takes you through every intricate permutation of the planning, sometimes to the point of exhaustion. At times The Longest Line on the Map resembles a relay race, with smart, young, hardy engineers and diplomats thinking they can tame this infrastructural beast, only to cede their ground decades later as death, disease, or sheer weariness overcome them ... It’s a testament to Rutkow’s skills at distilling information that he keeps the dozens of players clear in your mind as his narrative proceeds. He even delivers some droll quick-sketch portraits of the variously ornery, perverse, or valiant characters involved.
Everybody loves a shaggy dog story. A good one should be long and implausible but still on the edge of possibility. The chronicle at the heart of Eric Rutkow’s The Longest Line on the Map seems to qualify ... Mr. Rutkow diligently—rather too diligently perhaps—chronicles every conference over the years, every agreement, every promise of money.