I've just returned June 2013 from this GCCT trip (see my online review) and read three items that directly pertained to the trip. Anyone considering this trip might find these helpful, since their subject matter, especially the first two, probably will be heavily discussed by the Program Director. (At least ours, the fantastic J.J., discussed them and provided the Panamanian viewpoint!)
1. Earle, Peter. The sack of Panama: Captain Morgan and the battle for the Caribbean. New York: Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press, 2007.
This is a great book about Morgan, Panama (and Colombia), and the Spanish-English politics of the period. We actually stood on many of the places that Morgan and his men attacked!
This is the official U.S. Army account of Operation Just Cause, the U.S. incursion into Panama to capture Manuel Noriega. It was interesting to hear both sides of the issue, especially since we saw many of the places described in the brochure.
3. Garcia Marquez, Gabriel. Love in the time of cholera. (Spanish, 1985; English translation by Edith Grossman.) New York: Knopf, 1988
This book is historical fiction (with a long-term love story interwoven) set in Cartagena, Colombia in the late 1800's-early 1900's, with some inclusion of Panama. Easy to read in the fine English translation, and probably beautifully written in the original Spanish. It gives a good view of Cartagena--much of the city hasn't changed in the last 400 years.
Enjoy the trip - great experience!