Interested in panama hats? Check out this book: The Panama Hat Trail, by Tom Miller, published in 1988 by Vintage Departures, a division of Vintage Books. Of course, some of the information included is outdated, since it's close to 2 decades old. However, the essentials -- how the hats are made, for example -- remain true. Rather than try to summarize the book, I'll simply copy the back-cover text: "Tom Miller sets out on more than a journey -- he engages in a rare and extraordinary detective story. Panama hats, those fashionable head toppers with a style and mythology all their own, are America's most popular haberdashery. But where do they come from? When the answer in Ecuador, not Panama, the intrigue begins. Tracing these hats from the harvesting of jungle straw to their sale in California stores, Miller's quest brings him face to face with drug traffickers, zealous missionaries, Amazon prostitutes, and more than a few banana republics. All in all, an exceptionally entertaining adventure played out in a part of the world we rarely see." It's good stuff. Only about one-third to one-half of the book is about the hats, including history, production and marketing. But the rest of the book is pretty interesting travelogue, so many people here on the Lounge will likely enjoy it.