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
zoeq is a trained chef an innkeeper. Currently she is writing a cookbook for the family cook. She lives in Florida and loves kayaking.
Not really. Too much time spent on cholera and murders - in detail. I don't think I'll ever be enamored of Paris again.
Not enough art and beauty and the inspiration Paris provided. Not enough of the positives of Paris.
Slow to start but then very very listenable. I like this narrator.
I wouldn't read it.
I'm the kind of person that wants to escape through my listening. This book was hard reality and while possibly true to history, it failed to inspire with too much attention to the morbid. I will return it.
Tell us about yourself!I am an avid reader but enjoy listening while waking to work, ironing, doing dishes, etc. Listening to novels is an entirely different experience than reading; a well narrated story is a cross between drama and written fiction. Listening to books on Audible has been a wonderful experience.
A discussion of the ideas that drove the tumultuous 19th century in France and the Americans' reactions to and against those ideas
The absence of the American's view of the seminal events of the 19th century in France: the worker's revolts, the Paris commune, the Dreyfus affair, the effects of Pasteur and P.C.A. Louis on American medical training and practice, the evolution of the wine industry and its restitution by American (Californian) rootstock, the origins of the Franco-Prussian war and the obsession with foreigners as spies (leading to the Dreyfus Affair and anti-semitism during the 20th century), the Algerian issues. There were many topics left out which Americans either participated in or were affected by.
His prononciation of French was poor and that detracted from the impact of the story
The discussions of Parisian fashion.
I listen to audio books as I make the 1 hr commute to and from work. I like to learn so prefer nonfiction, science or history.
You can't go wrong with David McCullough. I must admit, I only recognized a few of the Americans central to the story and didn't realize the back story of the people who's names I did recognize. Great for those interested in US History.
The book was fairly interesting and full of anecdotes about famous artists in particular that served as mini biographies. But it was much too long. I simply didn't want to know every detail of the subjects' family lives.
McCullough was so besotted with his subjects and with Paris that he just couldn't leave anything out.
Oh yes, then there was the repetition. Why is it that editors don't do their jobs? Proofreading is not enough.
Prefer modern history - WW I to the present.
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.
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.
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