The book details people, places, and events involved in building the Panama Canal. The title refers to the connection between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans that the opening of the canal created.
U.S. President Jimmy Carter has said that the treaties passing control of the Canal to Panama would not have passed the U.S Senate had it not been for McCullough's book. “All through the Senate debates on the issue,” McCullough observes, “the book was quoted again and again, and I’m pleased to say that it was quoted by both sides. Real history always cuts both ways."
The 698-page book contains 80 photographs, two maps and extensive source references.
"David McCullough's history of this extraordinary construction job between the Atlantic and Pacific is everything history ought to be. It is dramatic, accurate...and altogether gripping." --The Washington Star
"Solid, entertainingly written and fair-minded ... McCullough unravels the complicated and sometimes deliberately obscured story that lies behind the Panama Canal."—The Washington Post Book World
"A chunk of history full of giant-sized characters and rich in political skullduggery."—Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times
"In the hands of McCullough, the digging of the great ditch becomes a kind of peacetime epic ... The book will absorb you ... You won't want to put it down once you've started reading it." --The New York Daily News
"McCullough is a storyteller with the capacity to steer readers through political, financial, and engineering intricacies without fatigue or muddle. This is grand-scale, expert work." --Newsweek