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)
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.
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.
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.
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!!!
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.
There are so many characters & details that it becomes very tedious unless you are an avid history lover & can keep track of multiple individuals interacting, often with little results. No wonder it took so long to build. Save yourself lots of time & get the PBS video of the making of the Canal which is well done & conveys the story interestingly.
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