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
Compare to experiences of Americans who went to Paris in 20s&30s.
These were better off economically, thus had different take on Paris -- these travelers seemed too idealistic & had romantic notions of the French & Paris.
This book was well researched and filled with material from direct sources; but it 'read' like a novel. Being an art lover I was delighted to hear about the struggle for their art from the heart of the artists. Also very enjoyable was the view of great events in American history as viewed from the outside looking in. Especially interesting to me as well was learning the flow of the various French governments from the Revolution through WWI. The harrowing and heroic experiences of Elihu Washburn made me proud to be an American and elucidated the courage of all who lived in Paris during and right after the Franco-Prussian war. Samuel Morse taught me that one can have a chance at significant contributions to mankind at all stages of life. So much to learn and experience here. An unforgettable read.
yes, it would be like spending times with old friends and I could listen to David McCullough narrate forever.
Charles Sumner because of his versatile intellect and compassion and work toward anti slavery
Charles Sumner; David McCullough narrated my book
Wow. Learned a lot and really enjoyed this. Little known or recognized historical bios of great significance to America. And, it's David McCullough, for heaven's sake.
A retirement coach, grandmother and active senior who listens to books while walking daily.
Like all McCullough's books, reading The Greater Journey is an educational experience couched in excellent historical non-fiction writing. It would probably be very surprising to many people to learn how much the French contributed to literature, science, the arts and architecture in the 19th and early 20th century. I have not visited Paris but I will have no problem navigating when I do next year. McCullough makes the city alive in my mind and I will be able to picture all of our country's early artists and writers sitting on their stools in the Louvre or on the benches of the parks or in the small studios tucked away on the Left Bank.
The fact that this book is so long made me happy - I did not want it to end!
Not necessarily (I have both) simply because I love the photos in the book. But, it was so wonderful to take this book on a walk every morning. My advice--get both--it's THAT good.
Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs or McCullough's Truman. All of these books provide an excellent glimpse into something unknown. So beautifully descriptive and truly captivating. A magnificent introduction to several characters and revelation of what makes them tick.
The lung under the hat...
I loved all the detail. Cannot imagine all the research into letters, journals, newspapers and
other source materials on so many people. I could almost see the author smiling as he
found some other delectable story in an obscure source.
The description of the Siege of Paris was one of the many highlights. The great
efforts of the American ambassador who worked tirelessly to save the lives of
many and the preparedness of many other Americans who aided with their
I also appreciated McCullough's switching back and forth from Paris to the
United States to link their histories together.
Herrmann's impeccable French pronunciations made the whole layout of Paris, it's
buildings, architecture come alive.
I especially enjoyed being free to see online all the art, sculpture and neighborhoods
as they were being described. Herrmann's reading, McCullough's writing and the
browsers really brought it to life.
Samuel Morse, Cooper, John Singer Sargent. Primarily the depictions of the artists.
Pioneers in Paris
While I really enjoyed listening to The Greater Journey, and would recommend it for any one who loves to listen to their books, I also felt that there were so many interesting historical ideas and threadsI wanted to pursue, that I would like to own the book in a print copy.
While there are many memorable moments in the book, they all seem to flow together like a string of pearls: intriguing, and lovely separately-- delightful as a piece.
Listening to the book allowed me to experience the 'essence of French culture' through the flow of the Herman's voice, instead of focusing on the details of history in a drier way. What came through is that the beauty of French culture had an affect on the American's who lived there, and so does Hermans delivery on us.
The beauty of this book was that it worked on me like a lilting French melody, instead of creating an extreme reaction.
While I knew about this period of history, it really came alive for me through the book's description of the characters lives in France. I was delightfully surprised by its effect.
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