In the early 1850s the French diplomat and engineer Ferdinand de Lesseps (1805–1894) revived earlier French plans to build a canal through the Isthmus of Suez, and, thanks to his good relations with the Viceroy of Egypt, won approval for the project in the face of British and Turkish opposition. This 1870 lecture reveals de Lesseps' enchantment with the desert and its people, his determination to complete the canal, and his annoyance at British antagonism. By 1875, when this English translation by Sir Henry Wolff was published, the canal had been open for six years and the British position had shifted dramatically. The government bought Egypt's shares in the Canal Company, and Wolff was chosen by Disraeli to speak in Parliament in support of the purchase. De Lessep's book remains an invaluable source on the canal, the politics of the major powers, and European attitudes towards the Middle East.