What are some quotes from The Path Between the Seas by David McCullough?

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The very times themselves seemed so immensely, so historically favorable. If there was one word to characterize the spirit of the moment, it was Confidence. Age-old blank spaces and mysteries were being supplanted on all sides. (24)

McCullough describes the sentiment surrounding the expedition to survey the Isthmus of Darien...

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The very times themselves seemed so immensely, so historically favorable. If there was one word to characterize the spirit of the moment, it was Confidence. Age-old blank spaces and mysteries were being supplanted on all sides. (24)

McCullough describes the sentiment surrounding the expedition to survey the Isthmus of Darien in Central America in 1870. The expedition, conducted by naval ships, was greeted with great enthusiasm. The public believed that science could solve their problems and create solutions. The Suez Canal had recently been completed, as had the Union Pacific Railroad. As McCullough points out, the world seemed smaller, and travel times were decreased because of railroads, iron-screw ocean steamers, and canals. There seemed to be no limit to what humans could do, and people had faith that great structures like canals could be built and that these structures would reduce the barriers between people.

He was gifted, passionate; he loved books, music, horses, his work, his children, his graceful, witty first wife, his stunning second wife, and occasionally, if we are to believe one admiring French biographer, the wives of others. (45-46)

This is McCullough's description of Ferdinand de Lesseps. He writes that it is amazing that de Lesseps was known as a great engineer, as he was not trained as an engineer but instead was a diplomat and a mediocre administrator. He spent years coaxing people into undertaking the Suez Canal and even gave speeches in England despite his poor command of English. The reason de Lesseps succeeded was not because he was particularly talented but because he was persistent. Jules Verne referred to de Lesseps's talent as "the genius of will" (54). De Lesseps was lauded as a hero in Europe after the Suez Canal opened in 1869.

The trip to Panama to see the canal was one of those small, luminous events that light up an era. No President had ever before left the country during his time in office and so from the day of the first advance announcement in June the journey became the talk of the country.

McCullough writes about Roosevelt's trip to the canal site, where he was indefatigable. Roosevelt jumped into ditches and walked on railroad ties. He was photographed sitting on the seat of a steam shovel, conveying the idea that the canal project would be successful. McCullough writes about an earlier meeting between Roosevelt and H.G. Wells in which Wells expressed worry about the effects of science and technology. Roosevelt only had faith in science and its ability to make a better world.

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