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
50yrs old / audible member for 5 yrs library. 75% nonfiction, 15% classics and 10% fiction. History/Science/biography/Eng.18th cent fiction
Lovers of Mcculloughs work were thrown an unexpected curve ball on this one. Firstly the topic of this book isn't as strong and defined as his other work and I think that that hurt his biggest fans expectations. The quality of the writing was also not quite up to par compared to his other work, which was a disappointment and surprising, because all his other books were so consistent in their greatness.
Having said all this, Mccullough's second best is still better than most others best. I to, was somewhat bewildered and disappointed as I made my way through the book but at some point my impression changed and I began to appreciate the underlying message of the stories related and by the the time I got to the end, those stories had a profound effect on me. I was elated by the examples of lives lived with such a beautiful balance. lives with art, music,and intellectual endeavors and friendships ingrained so deeply it was a heartwarming and exciting example of what life could be. Where a simple walk in a park could be a cherished memory for life. Where the values of/ in yourself and those around you were so wonderfully tuned enabling far greater depths in your relationships with friendship and family.
These are the things I got out of the book in the end and I suspect these are the things in the end that Mccullough was hoping to convey. Its this valuable revelation that elevates this book to 4 stars.
A transplanted Englishman, I spend my time on biography, history and military books. I appreciate good English and good narration.
I read the reviews of The Greater Journey and I was disappointed. However, I read McCullough so often and am so rarely disappointed, that I went ahead. I must join those who have written downbeat reviews.
What is the focus? Does the US owe so much of its medical and artistic heritage to France? Was Paris a fabulous place to live in the middle of the 19th Century (more so than in the 1920's)? These characters who made cameo appearances in an off Broadway play...figures of History who did not merit a biography of their own, worthy of such lengthy mention? Oh yes, there were facts and statistics that were surprising to uncover; there were descriptions of the Prussian siege of Paris that were new and well narrated, but every subject concentration jumped out of the shadows.
As always, Edward Herrmann reads so well that review is unnecessary. I simply continue to hope that it is he to whom I shall listen when I begin to listen to a long book.
I got the feeling that McCullough had done, as always, the most diligent research, had reviewed it and found no literary gel, then thrown it all into a pot and joined it 'somehow'. If you would like a snapshot of Paris of 150 years ago, you'll enjoy it. But this is not McCullough at his best. He read his own introduction and sounded halting, blurred...perhaps a little old. More's the pity. I'll look to see what he writes next. We are all allowed a miss here and there.
I bought this book because I like to listen to substantial books about history and I have enjoyed others by David McCullough. After I had finished it, my book club decided to read it. I thought I would listen to bits and pieces to refresh my memory, but I wound up going back to the beginning and listening to the whole book again, enjoying it as much the second time as I had the first.
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.
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.
This book provides the background of many of the writers and artists we thought we know. McCullough gives women writers and artists a significant amount of time in the book, when so much history does not. McCullough keeps us interested, even though there is no one story to tie the entire book together. He moves back and forth between the characters to keep you interested and to help you keep track of the decades he describes. We watch Paris and the United States take huge leaps in inagination, creativity, and technology.
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.
I love David McCullough & I love Paris!! That said while I enjoyed "The Greater Journey", it's boundaries were too broad to be as tight a story as "1776" or "Truman"... 2 of his classic works!
Another obstacle to overcome is that the subject matter delves into the lives and works of those who made sculptures & paintings. In the format of an audible book (i.e., no photos) and myself not being an art historian, I found it hard to fully appreciate the works McCullough was describing.
David McCullough reads a portion of the book and his voice is so rich I would pay to listen to him reading soup can labels. Edward Hermann is in the same class and he makes audible listening experiences a REAL joy!
If you're a devotee of the works of David McCullough, you'll enjoy this work! But if you're new to his works, I wouldn't place this at the top of the list.
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.
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