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The French diplomat and engineer Ferdinand de Lesseps (1805–1894) was instrumental in the successful completion of the Suez Canal, which reduced by 3000 miles the distance by sea between Bombay and London. This two-volume memoir, written towards the end of his life and dedicated to his children, was published in this English translation in 1887. In it, de Lesseps describes his experiences in Europe and North Africa. He includes reflections on European and colonial history and politics, a chapter on steam power, and a report on the 1879 Paris conference that led to a controversial and abortive early attempt to build the Panama Canal. Volume 1 focuses on de Lesseps' diplomatic missions to Rome and Madrid in the late 1840s during a period of political and social unrest in Italy, Spain and France, and the early stages of the Suez canal project.