The 1977 Panama Canal Treaty deserves a careful monograph, but until one comes along this work will have to suffice. The authors of this book recorded the multitude of steps that led to the Treaty. In so doing, they chronicled its official as well as unofficial diplomacy from the 1964 riots until its implementation by the Panama Canal Act of 1979. Most of the information comes from the New York Times, Foreign Broadcast Information Service, congressional publications, and the secondary literature in English. No Panamanian authors are listed in the bibliography, nor are interviews cited in the footnotes. As might be anticipated, events and attitudes in the United States receive much fuller attention than those in Panama. Still, the facts may be trusted for the period after 1964, and the book is useful for its narrative of United States-Panamanian relations in the late 1960s and 1970s.
The authors did not achieve their other aim, however, which was to analyze United States—Panamanian relations since 1903 in the light of linkage theory. First, the pre-1964 material is neither complete nor factually trustworthy. Second, linkage theory is not an integral and continuing part of the text; instead, it seems imposed, almost as an afterthought. As it is presented here, linkage theory holds that domestic politics may influence relations between two countries as much as official diplomacy and hence must be taken into account. All the negotiations, contacts, pressures, influences, and coercive measures make up linkages. This theory will hardly surprise diplomatic historians, and the occasional references to it in chapter introductions and conclusions distract more than they enlighten. In the final chapter, linkages get fewer than two pages. Unfortunately, this superficial framework elbows out real analysis and interpretation.
Finally, the potential reader deserves a warning about careless writing and editing. Grammatical and spelling errors irritate, especially in Spanish. Some material is repeated verbatim. The chapter organization causes the authors to jump around in time. Westview’s Replica editions are supposed to make available good books that require production savings to compensate for small audiences. In this case they have given us a cut-rate book.