The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris Hardcover – May 24 2011
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"An epic of ideas, as well as an exhilirating book of spells . . . This is history to be savored."
(Stacy Schiff The New York Times Book Review)
“An ambitious, wide-ranging study of how being in Paris helped spark generations of American genius. . . . A gorgeously rich, sparkling patchwork, eliciting stories from diaries and memoirs to create the human drama McCullough depicts so well.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A lively and entertaining panorama. . . . By the time he shows us the triumphant Exposition Universelle in 1889, witnessed through the eyes of such characters as painters John Singer Sargent and Robert Henri, we share McCullough's enthusiasm for the city and his affection for the many Americans who improved their lives, their talent and their nation by drinking at the fountain that was Paris.”
—Michael Sims, The Washington Post
"From a dazzling beginning that captures the thrill of arriving in Paris in 1830 to the dawn of the 20th century, McCullough chronicles the generations that came, saw and were conquered by Paris. . . . The Greater Journey will satisfy McCullough's legion of loyal fans . . . it will entice a whole new generation of Francophiles, armchair travelers and those Americans lucky enough to go to Paris before they die."
—Bruce Watson, The San Francisco Chronicle
"McCullough's skill as a storyteller is on full display. . . . The idea of telling the story of the French cultural contribution to America through the eyes of a generation of aspiring artists, writers and doctors is inspired. . . a compelling and largely untold story in American history."
—Kevin J. Hamilton, The Seattle Times
"There is not an uninteresting page here as one fascinating character after another is explored at a crucial stage of his development. . . . Wonderful, engaging writing full of delighting detail."
—John Barron, Chicago Sun-Times
“McCullough’s research is staggering to perceive, and the interpretation he lends to his material is impressive to behold. . . . Expect his latest book to ascend the best-seller lists and be given a place on the year-end best lists.”
—Booklist (starred review)
“A highly readable and entertaining travelogue of a special sort, an interdisciplinary treat from a tremendously popular Pulitzer Prize-winning historian. . . . Highly recommended.”
—Library Journal (starred review)
“For more than 40 years, David McCullough has brought the past to life in books distinguished by vigorous storytelling and vivid characterizations. . . . . McCullough again finds a slighted subject in The Greater Journey, which chronicles the adventures of Americans in Paris. . . . Wonderfully atmospheric.”
—Wendy Smith, Los Angeles Times
“McCullough has hit the historical jackpot. . . . A colorful parade of educated, Victorian-era American travelers and their life-changing experiences in Paris.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A rich and enjoyable literary experience. There are reminders on almost every page why Mr. McCullough is one of the nation's great popular historians."
—Claude R. Marx, The Washington Times
"McCullough wants us to know more than just the dry facts of our country's history; he wants us to the share the vivid emotional experience of those who inhabited it. . . . [he] reminds us of that with each shimmering, resonant page he writes. . . . The Greater Journey is the exhilarating story of what Americans learned [in Paris]."
—Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune
About the Author
David McCullough has twice received the Pulitzer Prize, for Truman and John Adams, and twice received the National Book Award, for The Path Between the Seas and Mornings on Horseback. His other acclaimed books include The Greater Journey, 1776, Brave Companions, The Johnstown Flood, The Great Bridge, and The Wright Brothers. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. Visit DavidMcCullough.com.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
This is the most engaging history book I've read so far in 2011.
While I was in college, I focused my studies on 19th century France because almost every possible variation of human history occurred there at some point between 1789 and 1914. In the course of those studies, I became very familiar with how French people and Europeans saw Paris. But it never occurred to me to apply the special lens of how visiting and expatriate Americans experienced the City of Light. I feel extremely grateful to David McCullough for conceiving of and brilliantly executing this book.
I should mention that I have read in great detail how 18th and 20th century Americans saw Paris. How I missed reading about the 19th century is beyond me.
One of the fascinating themes is how Americans went from being humble learners, seeking to gain from greater French knowledge of the arts and medicine, to being influential innovators bringing new influences (such as Morse's telegraph, Edison's electric lights, and John Singer Sargent's portraiture). Paris itself stretched to become a bigger stage on which technical progress was shared through the various exhibitions.
To me one of the best aspects of this book was becoming a little bit familiar with fascinating Americans who I didn't know much about before such as painter George P. A. Healy, American minister to France Elihu B. Washburne, and sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens.
Naturally, Paris itself is the biggest character and David McCullough treats her with proper reverence.
I was particularly charmed by the descriptions of difficult Atlantic crossings in sailing ships, riding in French stagecoaches (diligences) to Paris, and how the newly arrived reacted to seeing their first French cathedrals, especially the one at Rouen.
With “The Greater Journey” David McCullough has brought us another great century of American history. This time he follows the journey of ex-pats living in Paris, the center of civilization. They were there on a mission to learn and better themselves in order to help their new nation advance. There are so many stories and characters that when I picked up the book it was a bit intimidating. However, this book turned out to be a page turner, as the author masterfully intertwines all these stories into a beautiful work of art and history.
And David McCullough knows about art. The book has a quite a few pictures of art works produced in this era by masters such as Morse, Healy, St. Gaudens, Sargant, and Cassat. The descriptions of these works and the creative process they went through is simply excellent. The bibliography alone is over one hundred pages.
Furthermore, this book beyond the individual stories of its characters also brings to light the history of Paris in the 19th century. From revolutions, and violence, and war, to an age of enlightenment, and prosperity, finishing with the Belle Époque.
I would highly recommend this book as good reading to be savored and cherished. The sacrifices that these generations of Americans went through in pursuit of knowledge and artistic growth are truly inspirational.
Most recent customer reviews
My husband finished the book and liked it , however, I lost interest in it at the moment at the height of the war. I might resume reading it at a later time.Published on Jan. 20 2013 by Grace M. Hicks
A marvellous book. Historical facts are revealed about the life of Americans in music,art and medicine in the 1800's in Paris. Read morePublished on July 21 2012 by Patricia Clarke
there are some interesting sections ( Franco-Prussian War and the Commune period) - if I had known this was about art and artists I never would have bought it. Read morePublished on Sept. 10 2011 by cash