Of course there are the usual travel books such as Lonely Planet, Frommers and Rough Guides, but these are more about the history of Panama and the Canal.

The Path Between the Seas : David McCullough

The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914

The National Book Award–winning epic chronicle of the creation of the Panama Canal, a first-rate drama of the bold and brilliant engineering feat that was filled with both tragedy and triumph, told by master historian David McCullough.


Panama Fever : Matthew Parker

The Epic Story of the Building of the Panama Canal

The Panama Canal was the costliest undertaking in history; its completion in 1914 marked the beginning of the “American Century.” Panama Fever draws on contemporary accounts, bringing the experience of those who built the canal vividly to life. Politicians engaged in high-stakes diplomacy in order to influence its construction. Meanwhile, engineers and workers from around the world rushed to take advantage of high wages and the chance to be a part of history. Filled with remarkable characters, Panama Fever is an epic history that shows how a small, fiercely contested strip of land made the world a smaller place and launched the era of American global dominance.

In the Time of Tyrants : RM Koster

An eyewitness account of how Panama, since 1968, has fallen victim to a line of military dictators who have fattened on the misery of a country once democratic and prosperous. The authors, an American novelist and a Panamanian journalist, were actors in the drama of Panama as well as observers. They tell the story of how the darkness fell on Panama, how the tyrants, from Omar Torrijos to Manuel Noriega, became creatures of the secret government of the United States, and were supported long after their true nature was known. It is the story of those tyrants killed, those they corrupted and those who were brave enough to stand up to them. Koster was also the author of “The Prince”, “The Dissertation” and “Mandragon”.

Our Man in Panama : John Dinges

How General Noriega Used the United States – And Made Millions in Drugs and Arms

Dinges, who reports for National Public Radio, 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. Dinges has taken great care to verify his sources; hearsay, gossip, and questionable testimony is not presented here. Although light on analysis, this work takes a generally critical view of the U.S. involvement in Panamanian affairs. The 1989 invasion is briefly discussed in the book’s epilog.

America’s Prisoner : Peter Eisner

The Memoirs of Manuel Noriega Hardcover

Manuel Noriega may be a demon in the eyes of most Americans, but he has a unique and alarming view of the reasons behind the U.S. invasion of Panama. His book is certain to be one of the most newsworthy and controversial events of the year, containing revelations about dealings with George Bush, Oliver North, William Casey and the CIA, Jimmy Carter, Fidel Castro, and Moammar Quadafi.

Divorcing The Dictator : Frederick Kempe

America’s Bungled Affair with Noriega

Kempe recounts the history of the United States’ relationship with Noriega from his recruitment by the CIA to his capture in 1990. He examines why and how the United States became involved with the Panamanian dictator and how the involvement has affected its standing in Latin America.


The Gringo Guide to Panama : JuliAnne Murphy

What to Know Before You Go

In 2008, expat and author JuliAnne Murphy relocated to Panama for business, a move which proved extremely challenging in the first two years and led to the writing of this book. The Gringo Guide to Panama: What to Know Before You Go was born of all the things Murphy wished she had known before she made the move but didn’t know to ask about in advance.

Other books that you might be able to find:

  • Old Panama and Castilla del Oro by C.L.G. Anderson
  • The History of the Panama Railroad by Fessenden Nott Otis
  • The Land Divided the World United by Paul Rink
  • Rails Across Panama by Joseph Schott
  • Picturesque Panama by Jean Heald
  • The Panama Route by John Haskell Kemble
  • Panama and the Canal in Picture and Prose by Willis R Abbot
  • The Derienni: Land Pirates of the Isthmus (1853) by A. R. Orton
  • Panama: A Personal Record of Forty-Six Years, 1861-1907 (1907) by Tracy Robinson
  • A Story of Life on the Isthmus (1853) by Joseph W. Fabens
  • The Chagres: River of Westward Passage (1948) by John Easter Minter
  • Panama in 1855. an Account of the Panama Rail-Road, of the Cities of Panama and Aspinwall, with Sketches of Life and Character on the Isthmus by Robert Tomes
  • Panama Patchwork by James Stanley Gilbert