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
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.
Highlights an interesting aspect of American history that I'd never heard before. A very pleasant and easy listen for times when I don't want to have to concentrate.
Retired university lecturer. Photographer, writer, voice talent by avocation. Love reading, but sometimes audio is better
We (my wife and I) loved everything about this book. We bought the hard back print edition and then I purchased the Audible version to listen to as I read the hard copy. The narration, by Edward Herrmann, is perfection. Herrmann always had a terrific voice and his pronunciation of the many French terms and names was more than helpful. I highly recommend The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris, especially to anyone interested in the arts, Paris, and France in general. McCullough's research, as always, was exceptionally thorough.
I wasn't sure what to expect with this book, but I love historic fiction...but this was not historic fiction, this was better! It reads like a documentary detailing the lives of famous Americans and their Parisian journeys of the 19th century. McCullough does a great job compiling so much information to draw an extraordinary picture of the lives of these people and Herrmann lends his incredible voice for the listener to embark on this incredible journey! Thank you both!
I've been to Paris and seen the museums, walked many of the streets mentioned and loved visiting Paris and hope to go back again. This wonderful book, beautifully narrated brought back many fond memories and gave me a much greater historical look at Paris which I had never known about but found absolutely fascinating.
Finding out about the plague and the Franco Prussian war.
He was the perfect person to narrate this book as he has a wide range of tone and emphasis needed for the numerous and various scenes.
I listened to it at night before I went to bed.
Highly recommend this book, one of the best every audible books I've listened to of late.
I found this a strange book; a collection of mini biographies tied together by the fact that each was about an American in Paris in the 1800's. Still I am a fan of the author and the narrator and I am content to have finished the book. I learned a lot about the Americans in question, some of whom I never heard of before, and a lot about Paris that I never knew before.
I now understand why some people decide to be history majors. I had no idea history could be so interestingly told. I will be coming back to this audiobook again and again. I see myself sharing it with my children, re-listening to it before my next trip to Paris or to our National Parks and monuments. Oh what it will be like to walk, look and feel Paris with this history that I now have in my mind. I will never look at a bronze statue in the same way again. In fact, I will never look at my own work in the same way again. Gone are any doubts about the care I take when working on my craft! That is what I love most about having listened to this audiobook. Everyone should enjoy this experience. It will be one of the best gifts you give yourself. And we can all enjoy a good gift.
Say something about yourself!
had just traveled to Paris so found this read interesting. many details of life and famous personalities that have added to our current world from medical advancements, art, building of the famous tower.
Wow. History of Paris and the Americans of the time came alive for me with this great work of history. Figures in art, medicine, science and literature intertwined and cross-pollinated and were captured by Mr McCullough. I feel more enlightened and still wanting to learn more--a sign of a great work of writing and story telling.
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