Trade Ed. Random House Audio 2003
CD ISBN 073930352X $29.95 Five CDs
This is the sort of book for which abridgments were created. Balf's account of the first U.S. expedition to find a canal route through Panama seems overlong even in this abbreviated version. Not that it doesn't contain plenty of adventure, as the twenty-seven-member team endures extremes of hardship and peril. It also contains plenty of padding. Or maybe the effect comes from Ray Childs's detached reading. Otherwise, Childs possesses a pleasant radio announcer's baritone, which he employs with smooth, expressive melodies. But he comes to life only when quoting original documents, which give him the opportunity to invest the bites with the personalities of the characters. Y.R.
(c) AudioFile 2004, Portland, Maine [Published: APR/MAY 04]