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The Path Between the Seas Audiobook

The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

  • National Book Award, History, 1978

"A chunk of history full of giant-sized characters and rich in political skullduggery." (Newsweek)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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4.2 (407 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Tim United States 06-25-13
    Tim United States 06-25-13 Member Since 2011

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    "No Stone Unturned"

    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 The print version was published over 30 years ago, but the information is not outdated because the Panama Canal is a part of the Earth that was man made.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.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bruce 03-22-14
    Bruce 03-22-14
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    "Outstanding Book and Historical"
    What made the experience of listening to The Path Between the Seas the most enjoyable?

    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.


    What about Nelson Runger’s performance did you like?

    Nelson was great and easy to listen to. I had to finish this book and spent several long hours listening to his rendition.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    History Buff Maryland 07-09-13
    History Buff Maryland 07-09-13 Member Since 2012

    Grace

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    "Listening has its downsides"
    If you could sum up The Path Between the Seas in three words, what would they be?

    An incredible saga.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gregory Nole Connecticut 06-28-13
    Gregory Nole Connecticut 06-28-13 Member Since 2015

    G.N.

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    "Not McCullough's best and reader was draggy"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    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.


    What didn’t you like about Nelson Runger’s performance?

    His slow pace was a terrible distraction.


    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vikki Overton, NV, United States 09-12-12
    Vikki Overton, NV, United States 09-12-12 Member Since 2011
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    "David McCullough never fails to deliver"
    Would you listen to The Path Between the Seas again? Why?

    Yes. Because it is so magnificent in its scope it is impossible to get everything on the first listen.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The whole drama was incredible...but I like the way David makes the characters (including the canal) three-dimensional.


    What about Nelson Runger’s performance did you like?

    His delivery was fast and clipped...a little too long between sections and chapters. I kept thinking something was wrong with my I-Pod.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    McCullough...at his best!!!


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Phil Washington, Dc, United States 07-30-12
    Phil Washington, Dc, United States 07-30-12

    Dr. Phil

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    "Otherwise good book desperately needs an editor"

    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.

    17 of 22 people found this review helpful
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    Elizabeth Sand 11-13-15 Member Since 2011
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    "The reader ruined this book for me..."
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    A different narrator.


    What didn’t you like about Nelson Runger’s performance?

    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.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    McCullough's writing is fantastic. This review is strictly about the narrator.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Northern Gal Pennsylvania 07-31-14
    Northern Gal Pennsylvania 07-31-14 Member Since 2014

    Mary

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    "American Treasure"
    What did you love best about The Path Between the Seas?

    I love David McCullough...an American treasure! The narrator Nelson Runger did an amazing job. Great voice.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Path Between the Seas?

    The story of ridding the canal of mosquitos.


    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brad St. Louis, MO 05-08-14
    Brad St. Louis, MO 05-08-14 Member Since 2006
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    "Epic and exciting"
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joe Anonymous 01-31-16
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    "Detailed, detailed, detailed"
    What made the experience of listening to The Path Between the Seas the most enjoyable?

    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.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Path Between the Seas?

    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...


    What three words best describe Nelson Runger’s performance?

    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.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Ferdinand de Lessops collapse from indefatigable impresario to broken old man overnight, and his son Charles taking the heat for him.


    Any additional comments?

    Probably not for the casually interested. While I haven't listened to the abridged version, it may be the better choice.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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