THE PATH BETWEEN THE SEAS: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914, by David McCullough (Simon & Schuster, $14.95). Having written the definitive story of the Brooklyn Bridge, the author tackles a really tough subject, with political chicanery and the conquest of yellow fever jungle scenery and a timely revolution to lighten the impressive engineering details.

A RUMOR OF WAR, by Philip Caputo (Holt, Rinehart & Winston, $10). On one level, this is an infantryman's Vietnam memoir: on another, it is the story of a nation passing inexorably from "missionary idealism" to insensate brutality.

RATRIOTS AND LIBERATORS: Revolution in the Netherlands 1780-1813, by Simon Schama (Knopf, $20). The Dutch began their revolution before the French, failed (through Prussian intervention) and were finally taken over by Napoleon in a series episodes that provide a fascinating echo and mirror-image of the larger French drama as well as a glimpse of rationalizations and expedients familiar from other revolutions. This book is a major contribution to Dutch history and a delight to read.

FIVE SEASONS: A Baseball Companion, by Roger Angell (Simon & Schuster, $8.95). These occasional articles by The News Yorker's baseball writer, assembled in book form; make a whole somewhat greater than the sum of its parts and a worthy sequel to The Summer Game.

THE MEMOIRS OF EARL WARREN, by Chief Justice Earl Warren (Doubleday, $12.95). Sometimes informative sometimes frustrating, this autobiography will be read chiefly for the two chapters (out of 11) which discuss the author's 16 years as Chief Justice.

OUR LIKE WILL NOT BE THERE AGAIN: Notes from the West of Ireland, by Lawrence Millman (Little, Brown, $7.95). A young American folklorist explores the vanishing oral literary traditions of western Ireland, producing monument and an elegy in which his own words are as eloquent as those of his subjects.

WHY ISLAND, by Boyd Gibbons (Resources for the Future/Johns Hopkins, $10.95). A blow-by-blow account of the struggle between a developer and the local residents in one of the still unspoiled spots on the Eastern Shore.