Realizing the centuries-old dream of a passage to India, the building of the Panama Canal was an engineering feat of colossal
dimensions, a construction site filled not only with mud and water but with interpretations, meanings, and social visions.
Alexander Missal's ""Seaway to the Future"" unfolds a cultural history of the Panama Canal project, revealed in the texts
and images of the era's policymakers and commentators. Observing its creation, journalists, travel writers, and officials
interpreted the Canal and its environs as a perfect society under an efficient, authoritarian management featuring innovations
in technology, work, health, and consumption.For their middle-class audience in the United States, the writers depicted a
foreign yet familiar place, a showcase for the future - images reinforced in the exhibits of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International
Exposition that celebrated the Canal's completion. Through these depictions, the building of the Panama Canal became a powerful
symbol in a broader search for order as Americans looked to the modern age with both anxiety and anticipation.Like most utopian
visions, this one aspired to perfection at the price of exclusion. Overlooking the West Indian laborers who built the Canal,
its admirers praised the white elite that supervised and administered it. Inspired by the masculine ideal personified by President
Theodore Roosevelt, writers depicted the Canal Zone as an emphatically male enterprise and Chief Engineer George W. Goethals
as the emblem of a new type of social leader, the engineer-soldier, the benevolent despot. Examining these and other images
of the Panama Canal project, ""Seaway to the Future"" shows how they reflected popular attitudes toward an evolving modern
world and, no less important, helped shape those perceptions.