The Greater Journey is the enthralling, inspiring - and until now, untold - story of the adventurous American artists, writers, doctors, politicians, architects, and others of high aspiration who set off for Paris in the years between 1830 and 1900, ambitious to excel in their work.
After risking the hazardous journey across the Atlantic, these Americans embarked on a greater journey in the City of Light. Most had never left home, never experienced a different culture. None had any guarantee of success. That they achieved so much for themselves and their country profoundly altered American history.
As David McCullough writes, “Not all pioneers went west.”
Nearly all of the Americans profiled here - including Elizabeth Blackwell, James Fenimore Cooper, Mark Twain, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Harriet Beecher Stowe - whatever their troubles learning French, their spells of homesickness, and their suffering in the raw cold winters by the Seine, spent many of the happiest days and nights of their lives in Paris. McCullough tells this sweeping, fascinating story with power and intimacy, bringing us into the lives of remarkable men and women who, in Saint-Gaudens’s phrase, longed “to soar into the blue”. The Greater Journey is itself a masterpiece.
©2011 David McCullough (P)2011 Simon & Schuster
I totally enjoyed this book, both the book itself and the reading. I bought it because I like D. McCullough's writing - thoroughly enjoyed 1776 - but was still surprised as how much fun and how interesting it was.
After much preparation Fenimore Cooper and his family are finally underway on their journey to Paris! So is the listener. Fenimore Cooper comes home and the listener continues with other artist, educators, medical persons and people just enriching their lives. We listen as the streets of Paris become what they are today, our own beloved Statue of Liberty is built and couragous Americans are enfluenced and changed as never before or since. Some of the people you will already know, some you will be lucky enough to meet for the first time. Even if the time for these wonderful journeys is past David McCullough opens the drapes and helps us step into our own ship of words. McCullough's writing is his own form of painting. Edward Hermann does a great job. This is truly what is called a good book.
This was a fantastic journey for me, personally, because I'm an oil painter and this journey with all it's apparent hardships, would be a dream come true. I learned so much and am indebted to Mr. McCullough for the encouragement this book presented to me. As I both read the book and listened to it on audible, I was either at my easel or feeling that I must get to my easel asap. Thanks for the journey.
Hate to "dis" the audio version but you simply have to have the maps, illustrations, maybe even illustrations beyond what the print version offers. Nevertheless, very good. That said, this author writes to illuminate, not to fit readers' expectations. That is commendable. It also produces books that are admirable to say the least but do not in fact always entertain as much as their quality might merit. Good read but be ready to think not just listen.
yes, narration was outstanding and the stries make history absolutely come alive.
The depth of the characters
Yes, LOVE this guy. He was born to be a narrator.
The passage on E. Washburn was masterful. So much depth to the story and the character. I found his story to be unique, powerful and brand new. Our country has been built upon the backs of brave and courageous Americans like Mr. Washburn.
History lovers this is a must read - absolutely captivating.
I love how the author brings history alive. The interplay between the growth of the United States parallel to the things that were going on in Europe was fascinating. I had no idea about the details of the war between France and Germany and it was so interesting how Mr. Washburn, the ambassador from the States, stayed in Paris and was so much help to so many people of various nationalities.
Edward Hermann is always a pleasure to listen to and makes you truly feel the breadth of the stories. Now I want to listen again and stop and research the artwork of the artists who studied and worked in Paris.
I felt it wrapped up a little quickly but still found it made sense.
Entertaining and highly informative. The 19th century Americans overseas are well-fleshed out in these narratives. The French are laid bare to expose their worst foibles and endearing eccentricities.
This book is wonderfully difficult to describe. It is a loosely connected collection of stories about Americans who spent time in Paris. However the richness of the stories and the power of their personalities shine. I felt a connection with almost all of the individuals.
Beyond just the biographical vignettes, the book is a wonderful look at life at the time. The chapter on the training of doctors will no doubt make you thankful for our medical advances today. The details that McCullough gives on various topics from transportation to medicine to revolutions are tremendous.
The first section is narrated by McCullough himself. I love his voice and was afraid the narration would drop in quality, but Herrmann does a spectacular job.
As with all of McCullough's books, "The Greater Journey" is filled with memorable characters--James Fennimore Cooper; Samuel B. Morse; Augustus St. Gaudens; and best of all, Elihu Washburne, the hero of the siege of Paris. McCullough's material here lacks the same strong narrative thread that makes works like "1776" and "Truman" as irresistable as potato chips. Instead, there are several narrative clusters: Cooper and Morse, which is full of quotes from wonderful letters and diaries; Washburne's time as ambassador, which will make you proud to be an American and amazed that his name is not better known; and the artists of the late 19th century, such as St. Gaudens, Whistler, and Cassatt. The first two clusters are fascinating; the last merely interesting--and the end a weak fade-out. But it's still far better than 90% of the other history audiobooks on this site, and Edward Herrmann is McCullough's best reader (after Nelson Runger).
Entertaining and informative, this book is a delight. I enjoyed learning about Paris as much as I did learning about the American's who lived and learned there.
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