Winner of the National Book Award for history, The Path Between the Seas tells the story of the men and women who fought against all odds to fulfill the 400-year-old dream of constructing an aquatic passageway between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It is a story of astonishing engineering feats, tremendous medical accomplishments, political power plays, heroic successes, and tragic failures. McCullough expertly weaves the many strands of this momentous event into a captivating tale.
Like his masterful, Pulitzer Prize-winning biography John Adams, David McCullough's The Path Between the Seas has the sweep and vitality of a great novel. This audiobook is a must-listen for anyone interested in American history, international intrigue, and human drama.
©2001 David McCullough (P)2011 Simon & Schuster
"A chunk of history full of giant-sized characters and rich in political skullduggery." (Newsweek)
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I can understand why "The Path Between the Seas", about the Panama Canal is getting mix reviews from other listeners. I'm only the fourth person to write a review on this audiobook and the audio was published just a few years ago. The print version was published over 30 years ago, but the information is not outdated because the Panama Canal is a part of the Earth that was man made.
If you are not familiar with David McCullough, you will have a rough time getting through any of his books because he will go on and on with detail after detail. There is no stone unturned when he writes about our history. This is why you always know at what you are purchasing when listening to one of his titles.
David McCullough is a legend among the greats. He will tell you the back stories beyond the focal point, that no one ever bother talking about. They are usually human interest stories on the crew that helped build the structure, or the troops that fought in the war.
Reading about the Panama Canal was a bit tiring just because I've read a lot of other titles from McCullough this year. The Path Between the Seas was the third book from this historian when it got published in 1977. It won several awards, but he didn't get his first Pulitzer Prize until 16 years after for Truman. If you are a fan of this historian, you must need to invest your time at reading Truman. By far, it is just one of his best.
As for The Path Between the Seas, it's another apart of history that I totally skipped over when I was in school, but I'm enjoying it now.
As I mentioned before, I've read a lot from David McCullough in the past months and kind of need to take a break, but I am never disappointed of any of his titles.
It's the details that keeps the listener to keep listening.
The history of the Panama Canal is covered in this book and goes into great detail. I have been to the canal several times and had no idea of what went into building it. Gave me a much greater appreciation of the French roll and how the U. S. completed it. A very interesting read.
Nelson was great and easy to listen to. I had to finish this book and spent several long hours listening to his rendition.
An incredible saga.
It was a shame McCullough's publishers didn't hire a better "voice" for this long book. Nelson Runger's desire to read this story in a variety of accents fell quite short of the mark for Spanish. Since a good portion of it needed a French accent, I suppose that is what they were looking for. But the constant repetition of French names, rendered with a "foreign" accent, made it difficult for me to keep the characters straight. In this one respect, I, personally, would have been better off reading the book. On the other hand, the book (really, the tome) is so long, I doubt I would have finished it as quickly.
The story is interesting, but unlike the Brooklyn Bridge, the back story was not as interesting and McCullough went into long passages of tangential material. I'm a big McCullough fan but this was longer than necessary. And it was made all the worse by a reader who was so painfully slow, you could nap between his sentences. It was like listing to a 45RPM recording at 33. It was 31 hours worth of listing that could have been done in 2/3 the time if the reader had picked up the pace. It was so draggy my mind would wander between passages.
His slow pace was a terrible distraction.
Yes. Because it is so magnificent in its scope it is impossible to get everything on the first listen.
The whole drama was incredible...but I like the way David makes the characters (including the canal) three-dimensional.
His delivery was fast and clipped...a little too long between sections and chapters. I kept thinking something was wrong with my I-Pod.
McCullough...at his best!!!
This is an interesting book. Actually, it is two interesting books and that is the problem. The construction of the Panama Canal is clearly a subject of immense interest to David McCullough, who has written a book about the canal's French and American construction episodes that positively drowns the reader in superfluous detail. Really, this is two different stories which would be best left to two different books. McCullough's editor failed him here, for much of the material in this book would be best left on the cutting room floor. There is plenty of good material in this book, just too much of it. Another shortcoming regards the "performance" or audiobook narration. This book is full of Spanish and French person and place names, and the narrator is simply not good at pronouncing those names. The result is just a bit annoying and painful to listen to.
A different narrator.
Nelson Runger makes a distracting and disgusting sort of loud swallowing, lip smacking, wet sort of sound with nearly every breath he takes and at the end of every sentence. When he pauses between sections, there is such a cacaphony of phlegmy saliva noise that I have literally shocked myself yelling out loud, "Oh C'MON! YUCK!" I returned "Founding Brothers" because I just couldn't take it anymore - and I'm about to return this one. I just listened to McCullough read his own book ("Wright Brothers") and he did a marvelous job. I love his books and his writing style. I would love to listen to the Edward Hermann version but, alas, it is abridged. Am I the only one so bothered by Runger's humid delivery?!? After a while, that's all I hear and I have to turn it off or gag! I am also terribly annoyed by his tone, which sounds condescending and judgemental. And his French pronunciation is so affected and exaggerated that I really can't believe he's still being paid to do this. I will never buy another audiobook read by Nelson Runger.
McCullough's writing is fantastic. This review is strictly about the narrator.
I love David McCullough...an American treasure! The narrator Nelson Runger did an amazing job. Great voice.
The story of ridding the canal of mosquitos.
This is two books in one -- the story of the brave but failed French attempt to build a canal and the story of the American success that built on the good work of the French. The author covers back-room politics, the living conditions and daily life on the canal, the history of decision-making, and the triumphant completion of the project. The book is epic in scope and exciting from start to finish.
I am a serious fan of 19th and 20th century history. This monumental engineering project is an important part of that, and I enjoyed learning about it in detail. It is marred by picayune details in my opinion, that add nothing to the overall story. Much like Winston Churchill in his, "The Second World War", the author insists on providing lists of details, such as the thirty possible coded responses that could be sent in a telegram. While I enjoyed the book, I found myself (unusually for me) wishing that a couple of hours of detail had been edited out.
On the whole, McCullough's writing style is engrossing, and every historian faces the daunting task of what to include and what to leave out when tackling such a project of such magnitude in particular. One can always take issue with such things. As for his style, I prefer his later book, Truman.
This is a history, not a novel. There are many memorable moments, from the French audacity, to TR's proclamation that he "took" Panama. Oh, and they get the job done. But we already knew that...
I really disliked Runger's performance across almost all dimensions. Three stars is actually on the charitable side. His cadence, his inflection. Sounds like he's reading a boy's adventure story rather than a history. His laughably bad Spanish accent, and atrocious West Indies accent. The innumerable times he ignores standard year naming, saying "nineteen five" for example, rather than "nineteen oh five". On the positive side, he appears to make few reading errors, and only mispronounces a few words. His French pronunciation is good, as is his French accent.
I will not purchase another audio book with this narrator.
Ferdinand de Lessops collapse from indefatigable impresario to broken old man overnight, and his son Charles taking the heat for him.
Probably not for the casually interested. While I haven't listened to the abridged version, it may be the better choice.
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