The Path Between the Seas by David McCullough. Account of the history of the building of the Panama Canal, from the first French attempts, their collapse, the political and business machinations to transfer ownership to the US.
A Mad Catastrophe: The Outbreak of World War I and the Collapse of the Habsburg Empire by Geoffrey Wawro. History of Austro-Hungary in the years leading up to the outbreak of the Great War and the disastrous first year of the war on the Austrian fronts.
Old Man's War by John Scalzi. Military Sci-fi. Elderly earthers are recruited, have their consciousness implanted in young, superhuman, and extra-human, clones, and are sent out to the stars to wage questionable war to expand the human race.
The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. Starship Troopers, except with relativity, and so the poor SOBs on the front-lines watch the rest of the world move ahead millenias around them.
Avogadro Corp: The Singularity Is Closer Than It Appears by William Hertling. A team at a suspiciously Google-like corporation inadvertently creates an AI system integrated with their email system, which develops beyond its creators wildest dreams.
Short version: the French tried to build it as an investment, but the vision they could sell (sea level canal) couldn't be built. USA took over and muscled through because it was strategically important to the govt and it was a huge jobs program and stimulus to American companies selling food, transportation, steel, construction equipment, medicine, etc to the 30k+ workers. Also gave electrical projects to a young GE!
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