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The Path Between the Seas

The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914
Narrated by: Edward Herrmann
Length: 8 hrs and 22 mins
Non-member price: $38.96
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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. Applying his remarkable gift for writing lucid, lively exposition, McCullough weaves the many strands of the momentous event into a comprehensive and captivating tale.
©2003 David McCullough (P)2003 Simon and Schuster Inc. All rights reserved. AUDIOWORKS is an imprint of Simon and Schuster Audio Division, Simon and Schuster Inc.

Critic Reviews

"A chunk of history full of giant-sized characters and rich in political skullduggery." (The New York Times)

What members say

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Tom
  • 01-04-2004

Something for Everyone

A little bit for everyone: international intrigue, history, finance, public health, history, engineering. But alas this is an abridged version. From my perspective, to much time was spent on the politics in Washington to build the canal and not enough time on the engineering and public health issues of building the canal. Perhaps the unabridged version, unfortunately not available on Audible :-(, gave more time to the subjects I found of interest.

I would have liked to have seen Ambrose written on the subject. With his writing on the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads and how they came to be, he would have done a masterful job with equal weightings to all the subjects mentioned above.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Thomas M. Kokinda
  • 19-07-2008

The Path Between The Seas

David McCullough's work should NEVER be abridged...but if abridgements of his work MUST be offered, an unabridged version should go without saying. It is a matter of profound wonder and amazement that this work is not available in its entirety. What were you guys thinking? Edward Hermann is an outstanding narrator. But I feel cheated. I somehow missed that this outstanding work was abridged. I would have never purchased it had I known that it was.

I don't get it.

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Judith
  • 24-07-2009

The Path Between the Seas Abridged

I never buy abridges books but A Path Between the Seas by David McCullough wasn't available unabridged.

This is a book of history but so much info is left out. There are gaps in the retelling of the very interesting time of American history. People just appear and disappear abruptly. Incidence and documents are referred to with no explanation or foundation. A careful listen still leaves the reader wondering.

I feel cheated. I listened several times to the book thinking I had missed episodes that were important to the meaning of the flow of history, but I hadn't, things were left out. The reader was left hanging wondering what happened between here and there, and who is this important person and where did he/she come from

The least Audible could do is warn their customers that this book is poorly abridged and that there is no unabridged version. It's a good read as a novel but falls short of McCullough's other high quality unabridged history books. The abridgement degrades Mr. McCullough's fine reputation.

"What the Critics Say"
"A chunk of history full of giant-sized characters and rich in political skullduggery." (The New York Times)

The Critics must have read the unabridged version.

A disappointment. Simon and Schuster missed the boat here.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Edward C. Charbonnet
  • 21-02-2009

Not just dry history but deep personal stories

The author starts with the French valiant but doomed attempt to build a canal across Panama and as always he tells very deep and personal stories - not just a collection of dry facts. You will learn so much more about this complex enterprise and come to admire the men and women who tried and failed and then succeeded.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • David
  • 16-08-2006

Another great McCullough read

This is a wonderful book - great pace and very interesting. While I did know some of the basics of the Panama Canal - the author goes into far greater details, over many years, as to the political ramimifications of the ulitmate canal site - the operational and business aspects and how various diseases were combated along the way. Ed Hermann does another good job as narrator. Highly recommend!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Detail-oriented
  • 01-07-2006


Mr. McCullough does it again. Provides a compelling description of a challenge and how it was overcome. Tight prose, colorful characters, attention to detail but not overly so are characteristics that come to mind. Recommend for the history buff.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • SteveL
  • 29-12-2003


I had always viewed the building of the Panama Canal as something akin to the building of the Empire State building or the Apollo space program... something that was far on the fringe of engineering possibility of the time. While I assumed construction captured the attention at the time and was admired as an engineering feat afterwards. After listening to this title, I now realize that building the canal could be characterized as an obsession of an era... a just-out-of-reach-vision for half a century.

I found the book both well written and well researched. Narration was first rate.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Tigger
  • 04-02-2010

very fast moving...

I am very interested in the story and did not realize it was abridged. Seemed there were chunks missing. Otherwise it was great.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Robert
  • 18-08-2003

decent, but slow at times

The story was interesting, and the detail was great to hear, especially how they?re dealing with mosquitoes causing diseases (shades of West Nile!). However, there wasn?t enough personal experience, most is seen through the eyes of the leaders, and not enough of the workers. You want to know how these men spent their days, but too much time is spent on the French and how they failed.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Arnold
  • 13-12-2009


I visited the Panama Canal in August and then listened to this audio book. It is very informative about everything you ever wanted, or needed to know about the Panama canal.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • clifford
  • 14-10-2015

slow tedious with little relief

hard work to get through. so detailed as to be dull. little in the construction or impact but heavy on French company structure. learned little about the canal from this. dull.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful