As Marixa Lasso states early on in this stimulating, though at times overly academic, investigation into the socio-economic effects of the man-made waterway, ‘global trade and global labour had been at the centre of Panama’s economy since the 16th century’... Lasso has written a history of the lost towns of the Panama Canal and the attempt to quell the jungle and create perfect municipalities in its place. It is the story of the expulsion of 40,000 inhabitants, racial exploitation and segregation, and the sanitation of the ‘filthiest and unhealthiest place on earth’. And yet Lasso, now a professor of Latin American history in Colombia, has written a broader book than the narrow confines of her academic research dictate. Erased is in effect a justification of Latin America in the face of northern cultural and economic domination... For all its academic credentials, Erased remains a personal work. While Lasso may have used this historical footnote to illustrate a wider point about the northern hemisphere’s notions of Latin American-ness, it is as much her own story.