The Ultimate Collection Of Books About Panama

Whether you are a bookworm or history buff, we have compiled the ultimate collection of books about Panama for you. This collection is especially handy for people considering retirement or residency in Panama.

When you hear the name Panama, the first thought that comes to mind is normally “Panama Canal.” Although the canal is an engineering feat like no other, Panama’s history has much more to offer.

From the pre-Columbian period to the Spanish conquest and post-colonial Panama, the history is fascinating and proof of the interconnectedness of nations and cultures.

I have searched for books about Panama in the English language. There are many more books available, especially in the Spanish language.

Not all the books listed in this post are exclusively about Panama. Some include the history and politics of the region; some go as wide as the continent or adjoining seas. But given the fact that no single country exists in isolation, it is understandable and frankly, necessary.

To make your browse a little easier, I have divided the books into six broad categories:

  • Non-fiction – Guide
  • Non-fiction – History
  • Non-fiction – Memoir
  • Non-fiction – Science
  • Fiction – Novel
  • Fiction – Short stories

Within each category, the books are displayed alphabetically according to their title. Those that are marked as “Non-fiction – History” include works of journalism and reference.

To those who are researching residency in Panama, I trust this collection of books about Panama will be helpful. But here is a caveat: the intention was to showcase a complete list of books available. However, take note of the year of its first edition. History books, or information regarding climate or culture, would not be effected. But information about matters such as visa requirements, which are subject to continuous change, might well be dated.

Non-Fiction, Guide

A Guide to the Birds of Panama

Author(s): Ridgely, Robert S; Gwynne John A

This revised edition was expanded and updated with information on bird finding in Panama, prepared with the assistance of two of Panama’s best resident birders. The book also contains a special section outlining developments in Panama ornithology and conservation.

Publisher: Princeton University Press
Category: Non-fiction, guide
First edition: 1992  Pages: 412

Cruising Through The Panama Canal

Author(s): Deitch, Lew

A cruise through the Panama Canal is a journey you will remember, as you watch the flawless activities that guide your ship through the locks from one coast to the next. This book provides you with valuable travel tips on the ports of call along your route, and it guides you through the canal with detailed information.

Publisher: Independently published
Category: Non-fiction, guide
First edition: 2017  Pages: 224

Frommer's Panama (Travel Guide)

Author(s): Perilla, Jisel

An in-depth look at Panama’s history and culture, as well as an overview of the ecosystems and native flora and fauna. Itineraries for one or two weeks, for families, and for adventurers.

Publisher: Frommers
Category: Non-fiction, guide
First edition: 2010  Pages: 352

Live And Retire In Panama: Your Complete Reference Guide For Making The Decision

Author(s): LeMay, Paul

In this book, you will be given specific considerations to think about to guide you to make a decision that is best for you. Life In Panama is described giving you a full picture of what to expect. You are told what is an opinion and what is fact.

Publisher: CreateSpace
Category: Non-fiction, guide
First edition: 2015  Pages: 74

Lonely Planet Panama (Travel Guide)

Author(s): McCarthy, Carolyn; Fallon, Steve

Including Panama’s top 15 experiences, Panama outdoors, Panama City, Itineraries, regional guides and much more.

Publisher: Lonely Planet
Category: Non-fiction, guide
First edition: 2019  Pages: 320

Living Abroad in Panama

Author(s): Butterman, Miriam

The book is packed with essential information and must-have details on setting up daily life, including obtaining visas, arranging finances, gaining employment, choosing schools, and finding health care.

Publisher: Moon Travel
Category: Non-fiction, guide
First edition: 2010  Pages: 368

Moon Panama (Travel Guide)

Author(s): Friar, William

Writer and Panama native William Friar offers his unique perspective on this up-and-coming destination, from lounging in the Caribbean islands of Bocas del Toro to hiking the highlands of Boquete and exploring Panama City.

Publisher: Moon Travel
Category: Non-fiction, guide
First edition: 2010  Pages: 604

Moving to Panama - Not for Me!

Author(s): Roebuck, G

Moving to Panama – Not for Me! was written as the definitive guide for those considering moving to Panama to live, work or retire. It covers over 40 topics with worthwhile tips, real-life examples, photos, quotes and information.

Publisher: CreateSpace
Category: Non-fiction, guide
First edition: 2012  Pages: 72

Panamanian Spanish: Speak like a Native!

Author(s): Jamison, Lee

Don’t settle for generic Spanish! Put away the stale phrase books and learn to speak just like the natives! The book explores the most common expressions used in Panama.

Publisher: ADS
Category: Non-fiction, guide
First edition: 2016  Pages: 170

The Asshole's Guide to Panama: The Definitive Guide to Getting Started in Panama

Author(s): Forte, Daniel

Panama is a favorite travel, relocation and retirement destination for millions of people, but navigating it requires assertive knowledge.

Publisher: ADS
Category: Non-fiction, guide
First edition: 2017  Pages: 54

The Birds of Panama: A Field Guide

Author(s): Angehr, George R; Dean, Robert

The isthmus of Panama hosts more bird species than the entire North America. More accessible than ever to birdwatchers and other ecotourists, the country has become a premier neotropical birding and nature tourism destination in recent years.

Publisher: Comstock Publishing
Category: Non-fiction, guide
First edition: 2010  Pages: 488

The Gringo Guide to Panama: What to Know Before You Go

Author(s): Murphy, JuliAnne

Considered a cultural guide to prepare the reader for the realities of making such a move, this book was written for North American expats and English speakers who are moving to Panama, relocating to Panama for business or retiring to Panama to help them educate them prior to making such a move.

Publisher: JuliAnne Murphy
Category: Non-fiction, guide
First edition: 2016  Pages: 122

The Gringo Guide to Panama II: What to Know Before You Go

Author(s): Murphy, JuliAnne

Funny, direct and unembellished, this updated release of her second book includes several additional topics about Panama, as requested by her readers and followers online (including gems that did not make it into the first book).

Publisher: JuliAnne Murphy
Category: Non-fiction, guide
First edition: 2016  Pages: 268

The Mola: Traditional Kuna Textile Art

Author(s): Crouch, Edith

The mola is a multi-layered textile art form and metaphor for the story of the Kuna, indigenous people of Panama. With over 890 images covering more than a century of molas, this book provides insights into design sources and influences for molas, perspectives on the aesthetic practices of women creating them.

Publisher: Schiffer Publishing
Category: Non-fiction, guide
First edition: 2011  Pages: 256

The New Escape to Paradise: Panama Q & A

Author(s): Detrich, Richard

A pragmatic and thought-provoking guide if you seriously contemplate moving to Panama.

Publisher: CreateSpace
Category: Non-fiction, guide
First edition: 2017  Pages: 400

The Panama Hat Trail: A Journey from South America

Author(s): Miller, Tom

This exploration of the countries and cultures of South America examines how different cultures view one another, assesses the mythic appeal of the United States, and looks at the economics of world trade.

Publisher: William Morrow & Co
Category: Non-fiction, guide
First edition: 1986  Pages: 291

The Supreme Ruler's Rolodex: Who to Call when you're Clueless in Boquete, Panama

Author(s): Heidke, Dianne

Don’t you wish you had a list of reliable people you could call to help you do the things you need to do? Well, I did and I still do. This is information that you will continue to need long after you get to Boquete and Panama!

Publisher: ADS
Category: Non-fiction, guide
First edition: 2015  Pages: 103

Non-Fiction, History

A People Who Would Not Kneel: Panama, the United States, and the San Blas Kuna

Author(s): Howe, James

As they expanded, most nations in the Western Hemisphere relegated indigenous peoples to the lowest social levels, stealing their land, diminishing their populations, exploiting their labor, and flattening their cultures. Few have gone quietly, but one group, the San Blas Kuna of Panama, set their own terms. Anthropologist James Howe tells their story.

Publisher: Smithsonian
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 1998  Pages: 390

A History of Panama and its Development

Author(s): Bishop, Farnham

This book originally published under the title “Panama: past and present”; tells the history of Panama and its development. “A hundred thousand years ago, when the Gulf of Mexico extended up the Mississippi Valley to the mouth of the Ohio, and the ice-sheet covered New York, there was no need of digging a Panama Canal, for there was no Isthmus of Panama…

Publisher: CreateSpace
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2016  Pages: 224

Bolivar: American Liberator

Author(s): Arana, Marie

A brilliant biography that reads like a novel but is researched like a masterwork of history. It is the epic story of the famous South American general and statesman Simón Bolívar.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2014  Pages: 624

Charles Edward Magoon: The Panama Years

Author(s): Mellander, Gustavo A

Magoon was both Governor of the Canal Zone and Ambassador to Panama at the same time. His policies were in effect for over 60 years.

Publisher: Rio Piedras
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2000  Pages: 116

Dividing the Isthmus: Central American Histories, Literatures, and Cultures

Author(s): Rodriguez, Ana Patricia

Taking 1899 as her point of departure, the author offers a comprehensive and meticulously researched book covering more than one hundred years, between 1899 and 2007, of modern cultural production and modern empire-building in Central America

Publisher: University of Texas Press
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2010  Pages: 309

Divorcing The Dictator: America's Bungled Affair with Noriega

Author(s): Kempe, Frederick

The author criticizes U.S. policy towards Noriega, who offered aid to the contras in exchange for $200,000 a year and a blind eye to his illegal activities.

Publisher: Putnam Adult
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 1990  Pages: 469

Emperors in the Jungle: The Hidden History of the U.S. in Panama

Author(s): Lindsay-Poland, John

An exposé of key episodes in the military involvement of the United States in Panama. This book reveals how U.S. ideas about taming tropical jungles and people, combined with commercial and military objectives, shaped more than a century of intervention and environmental engineering in a small, strategically located nation.

Publisher: Duke University Press Books
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2003 Pages: 280

Erased: The Untold Story of the Panama Canal

Author(s): Lasso, Marixa

The Panama Canal set a new course for the modern development of Central America. Yet the waterway was built at considerable cost to a way of life that had characterized the region for centuries. The author recovers the history of the Panamanian cities and towns that once formed the backbone of the republic.

Publisher: Harvard University Press
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2019  Pages: 352

Getting to Know the General: The Story of an Involvement

Author(s): Greene, Graham

An important slice of the historical relationship between Panama and the United States told from the point of view of Panamanians. The author writes with compassion and empathy about his characters which proves Gen. Torrijos was correct in choosing him as a confidant.

Publisher: Penguin Books
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 193  Pages: 192

Hell's Gorge: The Battle to Build the Panama Canal

Author(s): Parker, Matthew

The brilliantly ambitious, epic story of a thirty-year battle against the elements, disease, impossible terrain and massive financial collapse to create one of the most extraordinary engineering feats in world history.

Publisher: Arrow Books
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2008  Pages: 464

How Wall Street Created a Nation

Author(s): Diaz Espino, Ovidio

This is the previously untold story of decades of financial speculation, fraud, and international conspiracy that led to the creation of the Panama Canal. The author details the dark alliance — among a French company; Teddy Roosevelt with his gunboat diplomacy; and a secretive syndicate of Wall Street financiers — that masterminded a coup in Colombia and the secession of Panama in 1903.

Publisher: Four Walls Eight Windows
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2003  Pages: 276

In The Time of the Tyrants, Panama: 1968-1990

Author(s): Joster, RM ; Sanchez, Guillermo

The book chronicles the rise and fall of Panama’s dictators, from Omar Torrijos to Manuel Noriega.

Publisher: Joster, RM ; Sanchez, Guillermo
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 1991  Pages: 430

Military Foundations of Panamanian Politics

Author(s): Harding, Robert C

This is a comprehensive examination of the evolution of the politicization of the Panamanian military and the legacy of this transformation in modern Panamanian politics.

Publisher: Routledge
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2018  Pages: 256

Modern Panama: From Occupation to Crossroads of the Americas

Author(s): Conniff, Michael L ; Bigler, Gene E

Few have a complete understanding of the recent history of Panama, markedly since the signing of the Carter-Torrijos Treaties in 1977. Although the Treaty set the stage for the country to finally control all of its territory, little is known about how Panama has fared, both as a manager of a major waterway and as a sovereign nation in a unique region.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2019  Pages: 364

Operation Just Cause: Planning and Execution of Joint Operations in Panama, February 1988-January 1990

Author(s): Cole, Ronald H

Written shortly after the completion of Operation Just Cause, this monograph traces the involvement of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Joint Staff in planning and directing combat operations in Panama. The study begins with the initial development of contingency plans in February l988 and concludes with General Manuel Noriega’s surrender to U.S. officials on 3 January l990.

Publisher: Diane Pub Co
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 1995  Pages: 100

Original papers relating to the expedition to Panama

Author(s): Vernon, Edward

This publication contains a collection of books, pamphlets, serials and other works about the Americas, from the time of their discovery to the early 1900s. Sabin Americana is rich in original accounts of exploration, pioneering and westward expansion, the U.S. Civil War and other military actions, Native Americans, slavery and abolition, religious history and more.

Publisher: Gale, Sabin Americana
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2012  Pages: 220

Our Man in Panama: How General Noriega Used the United States

Author(s): Dinges, John

The author describes in considerable detail the fascinating and appalling relationship between Noriega and the U.S. government. Much of this material was derived from previously classified documents, supplemented by Congressional hearings and interviews.

Publisher: Random House
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 1990  Pages: 402

Panama

Author(s): Buckley, Kevin

In a tense narrative that reads like a spy thriller, longtime Newsweek correspondent Buckley traces ex-Panamanian president Manuel Noriega’s ascension to power and his ties to the U.S. government.

Publisher: Touchstone
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 1992  Pages: 304

Panama 1914: The early years of the Big Dig

Author(s): Rossignol, Ken

Join this great voyage through the history of the Panama Canal, which is, one hundred years after its completion, on the eve of a new chapter in its spectacular history.

Publisher: CreateSpace
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2012  Pages: 286

Panama and the United States: The End of the Alliance

Author(s): Conniff, Michael L

After Panama assumed control of the Panama Canal in 1999, its relations with the United States became those of a friendly neighbor. This third edition describes Panama’s experience as owner-operator of one of the world’s premier waterways and the United States’ adjustment to its new, smaller role.

Publisher: University of Georgia Press
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2012  Pages: 260

Panama Canal Tolls; The Traditional Policy of the United States in Relation to Waterways

Author(s): Burton, Theodore Elijah

Excerpt from Panama Canal Tolls; The Traditional Policy of the United States in Relation to Waterways: Speech of Hon. Theodore E. Burton of Ohio in the Senate of the United States, May 19, 1914.

Publisher: Forgotten Books
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2018  Pages: 36

Panama Fever: The Epic Story of the Building of the Panama Canal

Author(s): Parker, Matthew

The Panama Canal was the costliest undertaking in history; its completion in 1914 marked the beginning of the “American Century.” The book draws on contemporary accounts, bringing the experience of those who built the canal vividly to life.

Publisher: Anchor
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2009  Pages: 576

Panama History: The Conquest, The Spanish Colony, The War Years, The Society and Its Environment, Ethnic Groups, The Economy, Government

Author(s): Marvin, Uzo

Estimates vary greatly of the number of Indians who inhabited the isthmus when the Spanish explorers arrived. By some accounts, the population was considerably greater than that of contemporary Panama. Some Panamanian historians have suggested that there might have been a population of 500,000 Indians from some sixty “tribes,” but other researchers have concluded that the Cuna alone numbered some 750,000.

Publisher: CreateSpace
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2016  Pages: 244

Panama. Made in the USA

Author(s): Weeks, John ; Gunson, Phil

How did Manuel Noriega, the CIA’s most important agent in Central America, become the US’s most wanted criminal? Why did 22,000 US troops invade Panama, to arrest a man who had been a staunch ally? Was his involvement in the drug trade the real reason for General Noriega’s downfall?

Publisher: Latin America Bureau
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 1990  Pages: 152

Portrait of the Panama Canal: Celebrating Its History and Expansion

Author(s): Friar, William

This classic about the Panama Canal has been completely updated and revised in time for the opening of the expanded locks. This engaging collection of contemporary and archival photographs is illuminated by the author’s lively and informative text.

Publisher: Graphic Arts Books
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2016  Pages: 96

Red, white, and blue paradise: The American Canal Zone in Panama

Author(s): Knapp, Herbert ; Knapp Mary L

Here is a thorough and impassioned account of America’s Canal adventure, beginning in 1904 with the arrival of the first American Roughnecks in the ‘Panama graveyard’ and ending the day the last vestige of American authority on the Canal Zone was abolished seventy-five years later.

Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 1984  Pages: 306

Secrecy World: Inside the Panama Papers, Illicit Money Networks, and the Global Elite

Author(s): Bernstein, Jake

A hidden circulatory system flows beneath the surface of global finance, carrying trillions of dollars from drug trafficking, tax evasion, bribery, and other illegal enterprises. This network masks the identities of the individuals who benefit from these activities, aided by bankers, lawyers, and auditors who get paid to look the other way

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2017  Pages: 340

Separation of Panama from Colombia. Reply to an article entitled "The Panama blackmail treaty"

Author(s): Anonymous

This work was reproduced from the original document and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in the most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work.

Publisher: Leopold Classic Library
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2015  Pages: 32

Six Minutes to Freedom: How a Band of Heros Defied a Dictator and Helped Free a Nation

Author(s): Muse, Kurt ; Gilstrap, John

It is the story of an American raised in Panama who started a radio station urging citizens to fight against the regime of Noriega and, after being arrested and tortured in Modelo Prison, became the only American civilian rescued by the elite Delta Force.

Publisher: Citadel
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2006  Pages: 320

The Building of the Panama Canal in Historic Photographs

Author(s): Keller, Ulrich

In 1889 the Compagnie Universelle du Canal Interocéanique declared bankruptcy. The French firm’s optimistic and ill-planned attempt to construct a canal across the Isthmus of Panama had resulted in the death of 22,000 workers; the complete loss of one and a half billion francs for the company’s 800,000 shareholders; and the bitter failure of Chief Engineer Ferdinand de Lesseps — the man responsible for the Suez Canal.

Publisher: Dover Publications
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 1984  Pages: 128

The Canal Builders: Making America's Empire at the Panama Canal

Author(s): Greene, Julie

The Panama Canal has long been celebrated as a triumph of American engineering and ingenuity. The author reveals that this emphasis has obscured a far more remarkable element of the historic enterprise: the tens of thousands of workingmen and workingwomen who travelled from all around the world to build it.

Publisher: Penguin Books
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2010  Pages: 512

The Darien Disaster

Author(s): Prebble, John

The word Darien is a scar on the memory of the Scots. Three hundred years ago the Parliament of Scotland, in one of its last acts before the nation lost its political identity, defied the King and the persistent hostility of the English to establish a noble trading company, to settle a colony, and to recover its people from a century of despair, privation, famine and decay.

Publisher: Secker & Warburg
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2002  Pages: 384

The Darkest Jungle

Author(s): Balf, Todd

The U.S. Darién Exploring Expedition’s 97-day ordeal of starvation, exhaustion, and madness—a tragedy turned “triumph of the soul” due to the courage and self-sacrifice of their leader and the seamen who devotedly followed him—is one of the great untold tales of human survival and exploration.

Publisher: Crown
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2003  Pages: 352

The History of Panama

Author(s): Harding, Robert C

This work chronicles the key events and figures in the country’s past 500 years of history. It begins with Panama’s colonial period, demonstrating how the isthmus was seen by the Spanish as merely a trans-shipment point. It then examines the post-Spanish period when the Colombian province of Panama became a forgotten backwater. The main portion of the book details the events and figures of the Panama-U.S. relationship, which dominated Panama’s history for the entire 20th century.

Publisher: Greenwood Publishing
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2006  Pages: 176

The Panama Canal: Illustrated by Color Photography from the Original Autochrome Photographs

Author(s): Harrison, Earle

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it.

Publisher: Franklin Classics
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2018  Pages: 40

The Panama Papers: How the Rich and Powerful Hide Their Money

Author(s): Obermayer, Bastian; Obermaier, Frederik

In early 2015, an anonymous whistle-blower led the investigative journalist authors into the shadow economy where the super-rich hide billions of dollars. Thus began the ground-breaking investigation that saw an international team of 400 journalists work in secret for a year to uncover cases involving heads of state, politicians, businessmen, big banks, the mafia, diamond miners, art dealers and celebrities.

Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2017  Pages: 384

The Path Between Two Seas

Author(s): David McCollough

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Truman, here is the national bestselling epic chronicle of the creation of the Panama Canal. In The Path Between the Seas, acclaimed historian David McCullough delivers a first-rate drama of the sweeping human undertaking that led to the creation of this grand enterprise.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 1978  Pages: 698

The Sack of Panamá: Captain Morgan and the Battle for the Caribbean

Author(s): Earle, Peter

Captain Henry Morgan’s capture of the city of Panamá in 1671 is seen as one of the most audacious military operations in history.  In The Sack of Panamá, the author masterfully retells this classic story, combining thorough research with an emphasis on the battles that made Morgan a pirate legend.

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2007  Pages: 304

The U.S. Military Intervention in Panama: Origins, Planning and Crisis Management June 1987-December 1989

The U.S. Military Intervention in Panama: Origins, Planning and Crisis Management June 1987-December 1989 

Author(s): Yates, Lawrence A

Prior to Operation Just Cause, American leaders had struggled for over two years with the increasingly difficult regime of General Manuel Antonio Noriega. At the time, the Panama Canal was still under U.S. administration, with the U.S. Southern Command based at Quarry Heights charged with its security.

Publisher: St. John’s Press
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2016  Pages: 332

The United States in Panamanian Politics: The Intriguing Formative Years

The United States in Panamanian Politics: The Intriguing Formative Years

Author(s): Mellander, Gustavo A

The author did his research in the development and early formation of the US role in Panama, just shortly of its independence as a Colombian province.

Publisher: Interstate Publishers
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 1971  Pages: 215

We Answer Only to God: Politics and the Military in Panama, 1903-1947

We Answer Only to God: Politics and the Military in Panama, 1903-1947

Author(s): Pearcy, Thomas L

Who can forget the televised drama of American troops tracking down Panama’s ruler, General Noriega, in 1989? How did that event come to pass? Narcopolitics–or money from illegal drugs influencing national affairs-is not the sole answer.

Publisher: University of New Mexico Press
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 1998  Pages: 248

Wolf Tracks: Popular Art and Re-Africanization in Twentieth-Century Panama

Author(s): Szok, Peter

Popular art is a masculine and working-class genre, associated with Panama’s black population. Its practitioners are self-taught, commercial painters, whose high-toned designs, vibrant portraits, and landscapes appear in cantinas, barbershops, and restaurants. The red devil buses are popular art’s most visible manifestation.

Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2012  Pages: 296

Non-Fiction, Memoir

Captain Puckett: Sea stories of a former Panama Canal pilot

Author(s): Puckett, Kenneth P

The history and operations of the Panama Canal during the 1980s and 1990s come to life in this vibrant memoir by retired canal pilot Kenneth P. Puckett. In this autobiography, Captain Puckett shares “sea stories” and other personal memories that have made him a popular teacher and lecturer.

Publisher: Chestnut Heights Publishing
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2018  Pages: 232

Crossing The Darien Gap

Author(s): Ega, Andrew N

Most travellers never encounter the Darien Gap. When they go to South America they fly or perhaps take a boat. The author decided to cross the Darien overland, traversing from Panama to Colombia by foot and riverboat.

Publisher: Adventura Publishing
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2008  Pages: 226

Don't Kill the Cow Too Quick: An Englishman's Adventures Homesteading in Panama

Author(s): Henderson, Malcolm

Retiring to live on a group of islands off the Caribbean coast of Panama, the author humorously describes how he learned through experience, from the first essential of handling a boat to his ultimate achievement of establishing an organic farm on the shore of a distant lagoon.

Publisher: iUniverse
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2004  Pages: 250

The Cloud Garden

Author(s): Hart Dyke, Tom; Winder, Paul

Pure chance brought the authors together. Ignoring a final, succinct warning from the Lonely Planet guide – ‘Don’t even think about it!’ – they set off into the Darien. However, just hours away from Colombia, they were ambushed by FARC guerrillas who were to hold them hostage for the next nine months.

Publisher: Transworld Digital
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2011  Pages: 402

The Darien Gap: Travels in the Rainforest of Panama

Author(s): Mitchinson, Martin

Fascinated by tales of Darien, the author arrived aboard his sailboat Ishmael, and spent the next 18 months navigating physical challenges, native politics and the constant risk of kidnapping. With two Kuna guides, he set off to follow Balboa’s historic route across the continental divide to the Pacific.

Publisher: Harbour
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2008  Pages: 284

Non-Fiction, Science

The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frogs: A Scientific Mystery

Author(s): Markle, Sandra

Panamanian golden frogs aren’t just cute, little, and yellow. They’re also the national symbol of Panama. But they started to disappear! Follow a team of scientists working to save these frogs and protect frog populations worldwide in this real-life science mystery.

Publisher: Millbrook Press
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2011  Pages: 48

Fiction, Novel

Canal Dreams

Author(s): Banks, Iain

The drama starts with the capture of a ship in the Panama Canal. It is a novel of deceptive simplicity and dark, original power: stark psychological insights mesh with vividly realised scenarios in an ominous projection of global realpolitik.

Publisher: Abacus
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2008  Pages: 288

Cup of Gold: A Life of Sir Henry Morgan, Buccaneer, with Occasional Reference to History

Author(s): Steinbeck, John

Morgan had two driving ambitions: to possess the beautiful woman called La Santa Roja and to conquer Panama, the “cup of gold.” Cup of Gold is a lush, lyrical swashbuckling pirate fantasy.

Publisher: Penguin Classics
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2008  Pages: 240

Empire Of Blue Water

Author(s): Talty, Stephan

The passion and violence of the age of exploration and empire come to vivid life in this story of the legendary pirate who took on the greatest military power on earth with a ragtag bunch of renegades.

Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2008  Pages: 332

Seducing The Spirits

Author(s): Young, Louise

Anthropologist Louise Young has turned her nearly two decades working with the indigenous Kuna people of Panama into a compassionate and passion-filled debut novel of a white woman’s journey into this unique culture.

Publisher: Permanent Press
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2009  Pages: 320

Silver People: Voices from the Panama Canal

Author(s): Engle, Margarita

From the young “silver people” whose back-breaking labour built the Canal to the denizens of the endangered rainforest itself, this is the story of one of the largest and most difficult engineering projects ever undertaken.

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2016  Pages: 270

The Golden Horse: A Novel About Triumph and Tragedy Building the Panama Railroad

Author(s): Morgan, Juan David

This is a sweeping saga, painting a vivid, personal portrayal of the events that transpired as a result of the rivalry between New York shipping magnates, William Aspinwall and Cornelius Vanderbilt, and the enormous personal cost that was borne by the people involved in the construction of the Panama Railroad–the first transcontinental train in the Americas.

Publisher: Two Harbors Press
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2014  Pages: 430

The Tailor of Panama

Author(s): Le Carre, John

He is Harry Pendel: Exclusive tailor to Panama’s most powerful men. Informant to British Intelligence. The perfect spy in a country rife with corruption and revolution. What his “handlers” don’t realize is that Harry has a hidden agenda of his own.

Publisher: Ballantine Books
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2017  Pages: 448

The World in Half

Author(s): Henriquez, Cristina

Miraflores never knew her father, and now she secretly plots a trip to Panama, in search of the man she hopes can heal her mother and who can help her find the pieces of her own identity.

Publisher: Riverhead Books
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2010  Pages: 320

Fiction, Short stories

Come Together, Fall Apart

Author(s): Henriquez, Cristina

The author takes you on a journey from Panama’s dusty city streets to its humid beaches, to create an affecting portrait of a country in transition. They illustrate family bonds and generational conflicts, youthful infatuation and genuine passion.

Publisher: Riverhead Books
Category: Non-fiction, history
First edition: 2007  Pages: 320

 “The man who does not read good books is no better than the man who can’t” – Mark Twain

I would love to have your thoughts on books about Panama. Are there any other books that should be on the list?

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The ultimate list of books about Panama

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Sold everything, became minimalist. Retired early, in Hispanic America. Helping others do the same. This free guide will help you plan your relocation. Do you have a question?

2 COMMENTS

    • Hi John & Susan, good to hear from you again! Thank you. If you do find one that is not on the list, please let me know. Travel safely.

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