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

Written by:
David McCullough
Narrated by:
Edward Herrmann

Abridged Audiobook

Release Date
June 2003
9 hours 0 minutes
The National Book Award–winning epic chronicle of the creation of the Panama Canal, a first-rate drama of the bold and brilliant engineering feat that was filled with both tragedy and triumph, told by master historian David McCullough.

From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Truman, here is the national bestselling epic chronicle of the creation of the Panama Canal. In The Path Between the Seas, acclaimed historian David McCullough delivers a first-rate drama of the sweeping human undertaking that led to the creation of this grand enterprise.

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. Applying his remarkable gift for writing lucid, lively exposition, McCullough weaves the many strands of the momentous event into a comprehensive and captivating tale.

Winner of the National Book Award for history, the Francis Parkman Prize, the Samuel Eliot Morison Award, and the Cornelius Ryan Award (for the best book of the year on international affairs), The Path Between the Seas is a must-read for anyone interested in American history, the history of technology, international intrigue, and human drama.
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Gary R.

This book was done very well. The first half gave insight into the struggles that created the base li e for the project. The second half was so interesting with the medical problems and engineering tasks that were used. The narrator was easy to listen too.

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Debra B.

Interesting history of the canal and some of the US history with Columbia and Panama.

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Fascinating story even if you did not know you were interested in the Panama Canal. Plus, it is hard to beat Edward Herrmann as a narrator. McCullough is a master storyteller and a bestselling author for good reason. You do not have to love history to enjoy his books/topics. It says this audio book is an abridged version, which makes it an easy listen. I loved every detail, but it could be more than some desire. (Disclaimer: I have a degree in history and love it.) I felt like they probably included everything that was both pertinent and that gives the reader (listener) a well-rounded picture without the exhaustive detail that may have been in the book. I do not know if the book was as detailed as his book on Truman, (I listened to all 54 hours of the audio book on Truman). I do agree with another reviewer that the abridged version occasionally leaves you wondering how you got from one thing to the next, but then you remember it is abridged and you are fine. You realize you did not miss something and easily jump into the next topic. I do recommend looking at a map of Panama or even finding something historical related to the canal. It is not essential, but it helps if you like to place the key locations McCullough references throughout the book in your mind and understand the path of the canal (which is not in a straight line across the isthmus).

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David McCullough writes about history in a way that suits me right down to the ground. If you liked 1776, then you will enjoy The Path Between the Seas. Mr. McCullough is the master at ferreting out the key events upon which the historical outcomes pivot. In this case, a narrow vote In the Senate and the competence (genius) and hard work of two professionals made all the difference. Without them, yellow fever and malaria would have defeated the work force. Without them, the excavation could never have proceeded fast enough. Thank you for the insights, Mr. McCullough.

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Debbie Farrow

I wanted to love, love, love this audio book because of my personal connection with the Panama Canal, but found it to be a rather dry read. The narration is beautifully done in an authoritative tone. It is a book filled with great detail (even some facts I didn't know after living in the Canal Zone for so many years). I recommend it for anyone with interest in the Canal or a penchant for history.

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Home Boy

Wow, unbelievable what they did. This book chronicles the ups and downs of this gargantuan effort. Well written, thoroughly engaging.

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Douglas Carney

Not one of the better David McCullough books. Too much time spent on the pre-building politics and not enough time spent with the actual digging details. It was really slow toward the middle but then picked up again before the end.

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Shane Nixon

I have developed this sort of affection for the Panama Canal and the history surrounding it. I am a history buff. I like David McCullough. If all those things are true for you, you are going to love this book. I one or two of them is, you will like it. If only one is true, you might simply enjoy it for a while. If, however, none of those is true for you, even McCullough's mastery as a historical story teller will most likely not be enough. Just to much detail. I enjoyed it, just thought it was a little long.

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The facination with the Panama Canal is easily satified with this excellent book. History that I did not know and corrections of some that I thought that I knew. I find a great desire to travel the canal just to view the places painted in the pages of this excellent book.

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Lee Werley

I enjoyed this story but it could have been shorter. I learned more about the canal than I every remember hearing about. My wife spent several months living at the canal before I met her and we were able to discuss the canal in greater detail.

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The book was pretty good. I haven't read much non-fiction literature, so I don't have much to compare by, but the story was engaging and the pace kept your attention. The narrator was un-offensive, even pretty good. He even threw in a few accents when he was reading a quote. My only major complaint is the abridgement. There were a few times where I felt I must have suffered a memory lapse, left wondering "how'd we get here", before I remembered the book was abridged. The book traces the history from the French attempt at building the canal to the completion of it by the Americans. It covers mostly the political aspects surrounding the project but also discusses the work/health/living conditions of the workers. There wasn't much technical description of the canal itself until the end of the book.

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Juan Herena

I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook. The failure of the French attempt to build the canal was dramatically told, and contrasted with the Americans' resolution to apply advances in medicine, engineering, and transportation to avoid the same fate. McCullough doesn't lionize the Americans, however; his account of the political machinations undertaken by Theodore Roosevelt and others to prise Panama out of Colombian control is unsparing. It was precisely this kind of ruthlessness that eventually succeeded in fulfilling a great dream.

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Michael Scott

Fascinating read. I only wish I knew about this book BEFORE I went through the canal last year. I only wish it included an update to present day, now that the US has handed control of the Canal to Panama. I am very surprised that more was not mentioned of the military significance of the canal itself to the US. Am also disappointed that there is no UNABRIDGED version available, though this is of no fault of Simply Audiobooks.

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Lynette Dupee-Schmidt

What a wonderfully told story of such rich historical, medical, geographical, political significance. The best way to learn one's history is through storytelling such as this. First rate!

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I found the Path Between the Seas very interesting. Covered from 1870's and France's attempt thru 1914 completion. At times it was difficult to keep track of who was who but very interesting all the same.

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