Fascinating, accessible and quite enjoyable. I found this history of Americans in Paris from 1830 to 1900, a subject about which I knew very little, wonderful and thought provoking. McCullough's style is colorful, and avuncular and the structure is reminiscent of a Ken Burns documentary; using hundreds of personal letters and diaries to create portraits of a city and those who came there to work, study and create.
The author seems to favor artists and writers, though his chapters covering politics and medicine are just as interesting and at times much more gripping. A huge fan of John Singer Sargent, I loved the chapter detailing the painting of El Jaleo, The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit and Madame X, though I also found myself equally fascinated with the lives of Samuel Morse, Charles Sumner and Elihu Washburne. (I had to stop and google more biographical details after I read each chapter.)
I chose The Greater Journey for two reasons; because I am reading up on Paris and because I admire the artists discussed. I came away impressed by McCullough's view that a great deal of our own young country's history was informed by the experiences of the of those who made that 'greater' journey.
The first chapter is actually read by McCullough, whose familiar voice is showing signs of age. Edward Hermann does a brilliant job on the rest, well paced and entertaining.
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