David Adamson Harper

DAVID ADAMSON HARPER    Author

How Teddy Took Panama

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It is August 1903, and Teddy Rosevelt’s plans to build a canal through the isthmus of Panama are being thwarted.  As he looks out over the White House lawn, his mind goes back to Cuba and the Spanish-American war. Inspiration strikes.

Jack Quinn, a former aide from his Rough Rider days in Cuba, and now a bored New York lawyer, suddenly finds himself summoned to the White house, to be sent on a secret mission to Panama.  He must help the rebels there secede from Colombia and pave the way for the United States to build the canal in the new Republic of Panama.

Under orders to keep Roosevelt’s involvement hidden, Quinn finds himself drawn to a beautiful Panamanian woman, who is unhappily married to the second-in-command of the Colombian army garrison in Panama.

Jack Quinn, the accidental secret agent, soon finds himself fighting for his life as he tries to bring together the rebellion and keep the woman he loves.

David Adamson Harper adroitly tells the story behind the history.  How did Teddy pull off the steal of the century, without historians or journalists being able to prove his involvement?

5.0 out of 5 stars A bully good read and a must have for fans of Theodore Roosevelt.

In the last ten years, I’ve read nearly everything Theodore Roosevelt wrote, and a great deal of what has been written about him, of course. including the great works by Hagedorn, Morris, McCullough, Brinkley, and Kearns-Goodwin, and more. Without a doubt, I have just read the work of historical fiction that stands out as the story that would best make a tremendous screen play and film. All of the ingredients are here: history, romance, intrigue, and more. David Adamson Harper has woven a beautiful mola, and laid it across the the flesh and bones of amazing history. A bully good tale, highly recommended. —Joe Wiegand

5.0 out of 5 stars If you like historical fiction do not miss this book.

How Teddy Took Panama is a wonderful read of love, spying, and diplomacy. It has fine pacing of plot and clear portraits of the main characters. The authors descriptive style brings to life the meetings and the machinations in the White House and among the founding fathers of the new Republic of Panama in their mansions. Often when a love story is written, one comes across silly pretensions and false notes in person and plot, but none here. The plot is credible, and as so little is known about how Theodore Roosevelt decided on Panama, instead of Nicaragua the choice of the Senate, to build the Canal, the authors account is plausible.

Harper depicts Roosevelt’s spy Jack Quinn as suffering from what we today call PTSD, from his traumatic memories of the Spanish American war in Cuba, in contrast with Teddy’s enthusiasm and the Roughriders charge up San Juan Hill. I liked Quinn’s old school discretion and Genoveva’s courage. The author makes her somewhat of a heroine in defying her brutal husband and assisting Quinn in arranging the duel. I found the action in Colon, where Quinn and the captain of the USS Nashville manage to hold up the Colombian troops from reaching Panama City, particularly interesting given its little known historical accuracy.

The picture of New York society and its turn of the century snobbishness is exact and his other observations, such as how Quinn believes that the newly arrived horseless carriage will help the pollution of the streets by removing horse dung, are also timely. This is a historical novel that lives up to the reputation so well established by writers such as Bernard Cornwell. Well done David Adamson Harper. —Helen Hadfield

4.0 out of 5 stars A gripping read that fans of historical fiction will enjoy 

Former Rough Rider and veteran of the Spanish-American war, Jack Quinn has been sent on a top-secret mission to Colombia-controlled Panama in order to secure a deal for the United States to build a trans-oceanic canal through the isthmus of Panama.

With the senate in favor of Nicaraguan canal, and the Colombian president demanding a higher price for the treaty, there is but one option left in the eyes of President Roosevelt- support the Panamanian rebels in their efforts to secede from Colombia to become their own independent country, in exchange for the rights to build the Panamanian canal.

Fraught with danger and diplomatic challenges, Quinn’s very life depends on the success of his plans, and matters are made only worse as he finds himself falling in love with the alluring wife of Colonel Ochoa, a staunch Colombian loyalist. Can he manage to secure a deal with the Panamanians peacefully, or will he be responsible for igniting a bloody civil war?

While little is known about the exact role of the United States in the Panamanian rebellion, Harper explains there is much evidence that the involvement was much greater than most would believe. His take on this story, while not documented fact, remains entirely plausible, and nonetheless entertaining to read. Full of suspense, vivid descriptions of the Panamanian landscape and culture, as well as a fiery-hot romance, How Teddy Took Panama is a gripping read that fans of historical fiction will enjoy. —Review via http://epicbookquest.com

5.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Account of How Teddy Roosevelt Acquired the Panama Canal. 

I am usually not a big reader of historical novels because I don’t usually find them very interesting, but this is definitely an exception. This story of how the American President, Teddy Roosevelt, was able to purchase the canal from the French, obtain all rights to the canal and surrounding land, and instigate a Panamanian Revolution from Columbia without anyone finding out was almost unbelievable, and yet, at the same time, I could see it all unfolding and happening just as the book said. The entire plan was genius!

The author described the setting and living conditions perfectly for the early 1900’s. I felt like I was right there with the two main characters, Jack Quinn and William Perry as Teddy’s plan unfolded. I also very much enjoyed the love story that developed throughout the book. The characters were vividly described and it made the story very interesting. It literally kept me on the edge of my seat. I just enjoyed this book so much! I would highly recommend this book to everyone. —Amazon Review

4.0 out of 5 stars Very Entertaining 

How Teddy Took Panama is an entertaining historical novel. Jack Quinn, who had once worked with Teddy Roosevelt during his Rough Rider days, is now asked by President Roosevelt to quietly assert the US’s influence in Panama. The US needs Panama to secede from Colombia in order for Roosevelt’s plans for the Panama Canal to be realized. Jack has to work behind the scenes to discover what it will take to ensure a rebellion against Colombia, and to do so without anyone suspecting he is working on behalf of the president.


I really liked how seamlessly this story seemed to fit with the history around the events. I thought that Jack was a strong and capable lead, and the situation and intrigue involved in trying to influence a favorable outcome for the US was well written and interesting. I thought that some of the events with Jack’s love interest unfolded a bit too quickly, but overall it kept the story engaging and made the job more personal for Jack, raising the stakes for the character. I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. — Amazon Review

The idea for How Teddy Took Panama

David Adamson Harper spent a number of years working in Panama in the maritime industry. During his first tour of duty there, the 1964 riots against American sovereignty over the Canal Zone occurred and he witnessed incidents in Colon at close hand. This created his interest in the history of the founding of Panama and the infamous Hay ̶ Bunau-Varilla treaty. He was amazed to learn how the treaty came into being and thereafter became a supporter of Panama’s aspirations to have it changed, and the Canal Zone returned to Panamanian sovereignty. 

During his second tour there, the Carter Administration agreed to renegotiate the treaty with the government of Panama, which led to the Carter ̶ Torrijos treaties and the return of the American Canal Zone and later the Canal itself. Harper spoke in favor of the new treaties, often in front of hostile American audiences. When the Canal Zone was returned to Panama in 1979 the State Department appointed him the United States Consular Agent in Colon, Panama. 

The idea for How Teddy Took Panama first came to him when he learned, while studying historical accounts of the original treaty, that no one had ever been able to prove that President Theodore Roosevelt had anything to do with Panama’s 1903 rebellion. Since historians couldn’t find any evidence of Teddy’s direct involvement, he decided to write this story peopling it with actual historical characters as well as those of his own invention.

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