Books: A Ditch in Time

THE PATH BETWEEN THE SEAS by DAVID McCULLOUGH 698 pages. Simon & Schuster. $14.95.

The day that Germany declared war on France, Aug. 3, 1914, was also the day that the first ocean-going ship—the cement carrier Cristobal—passed through the newly built Panama Canal. The coincidence provides one of those Janus dates of history: the canal reflecting the 19th century's unambiguous energies, organizational drive and technological genius, and World War I inaugurating a century in which those forces would go mad.

The Path Between the Seas looks back with frank admiration on the men and machines that toiled 44 years to join the Atlantic...

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