Review: The Path Between the Seas

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

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m tempted not to review this book. I don’t like long books. I don’t enjoy much non-fiction, and I certainly don’t seek out history texts. So The Path Between the Seas, weighing in at more than 600 dense pages, wasn’t the type of book I’d pick out for myself. My wife gave me this tome before our cruise through the Panama Canal, so I felt obligated to give it a try.

It seems unfair to rate and review a book I’m destined to detest, but McCullough’s striking detail brought the difficult birth of this most amazing engineering achievement to life. Unfortunately, I was only a third of the way through when we departed for our cruise, but as soon as we returned, I picked it right back up again.

The people in this story–de Lesseps, Gorgas, Taft, Rooseveldt, Banau-Varilla–are portrayed so vividly, it’s hard to believe they aren’t characters in a work of fiction. But McCullough is a real historian, and there are 40-50 pages of notes at the end of the book that leave little doubt that every detail woven into this utterly comprehensive narrative is factual.

If you’re used to modern fiction’s lean prose, McCullough’s long, winding sentences might be off-putting, but I found myself acclimated to them after just a couple pages. McCullough covers the economics and engineering of the canal with the same dexterity as the people, the events, and the historical context.

If you ever plan to visit the Panama Canal, this book is a must. But even if a passage isn’t on your bucket list, the book should be on your reading list.

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Blue Screen of Death is now on Goodreads

Blue Screen of Death is now listed on (thanks Laura!). If you’re a Goodreads user, drop by and leave a quick review. Also visit my author page to become my fan.

Also, Smashwords seems to have worked through their backlog and added BSoD to their premium catalog, which means the book is on the way to the Apple, Kobo, and Sony stores as well.

Thanks everyone for the great response to the book. If you’ve enjoyed the book or want to know more about it, check it out on Facebook.

Read an Ebook Week is Now Read an Ebook Month

cover of Saba by Mary Jane, depicting a small valley on the tiny Caribbean island of the same name


Good news! Read an Ebook Week has been extended into a month-long affair. It’s still a Canadian thing, though, so there’s that.

So with several more weeks of ebook reading ahead, what’s next on your list? By now, I’m sure you’ve devoured Blue Screen of Death. I’d like to recommend Saba by Mary Jane (Amazon, B&N, Smashwords).

Saba (pronounced SAY-buh) is a little island in the Caribbean Sea that changes the lives of a couple who move there after a perfect vacation. Have you ever seen that TV show Househunters International, where couples decide to chuck it all and move to their vacation spot? Saba shows you what happens after they move in.

I’ve followed Mary Jane’s writing career closely, and I think this novel is her breakthrough. Highly recommended.

Read an Ebook Week

Blue Screen of Death cover imageToday marks the beginning of Read an Ebook Week. I learned about it from a Smashwords email. Looks like it’s a Canadian thing. Nevertheless, it seemed like a good opportunity to start letting people know that my debut novel Blue Screen of Death is now available at the obvious places. Eventually, it should also appear in places like the iTunes bookstore, but getting into those catalogs takes a bit longer than the major ebook retailers.

What will I be reading this week? Probably Spook Country by William Gibson. I recently enjoyed Pattern Recognition, which is the first book in the Bigend Cycle.

Let me know in the comments what you’ll be reading this week. And if it’s my book, make sure you leave a review.