Although relatively lengthy, I found that this book went by quickly and in a very entertaining manner. McCullough does a very nice job weaving together the stories of many Americans who spent considerable time in Paris during the 19th Century. While some prior reviewers found the story a little disjointed, it is told in a chronological matter and I never found the story difficult to follow. The number of upheavals that Paris experienced during this Century is explained in considerable detail, describing the human suffering and the courage and humanity of American visitors during this time. But equally important is what Americans were able to take away and bring back to the U.S. that is fascinating. While many are aware that Paris representing the peak of culture at this time, I'm not so sure many of us knew the primacy of Paris in the field of medicine and the contributions it made to early American doctors. It is also interesting to follow the advance of America from a large but nascent country to standing on the precipice of greatness that would be realized during the next century that is so well described by McCullough as he describes the advances being made through the industrialization of the U.S. and innovations in communications (telegraph) by a man starting as an artist in Paris and leaving Paris with an idea about transmission of dots and dashes over wires that would dramatically change the speed of communications.
And, of course, the narration by Edward Herrmann is beyond reproach. I never tire of books narrated by Mr. Herrmann.
The rave reviews are accurate. This is a wonderful book about survival and redemption. The story is full of detail, but never becomes boring. The suffering of the main character defies comprehension, but you somehow never doubt that it is accurately portrayed. It is a story about man's ability to inflict unbearable harm on other men and one man's ability to overcome it, though not without enormous resolve, effort and healing. Ed Herrmann is a real plus as the narrator. I've listened to a number of books narrated by Mr. Herrman and always find them enjoyable to listen to. Highly recommended.
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