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 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.
It's David McCullough. What more do you need?
You will want to look up the paintings mentioned as you hear about them. Does the print version include copies of the paintings?
I love all of the audible books by McCullough and this one is no exception. It was recommended by a friend and I am grateful to him.
What I enjoy very much about the audible book is the music between chapters. I have several friends trying to identify the song between Chapter one and Chapter two. I would love it if someone could identify it.
Thank you to Amazon for providing this format.
This discovery of Paris through the eyes of 19th century artists, doctors, politicians is breathtaking
Being in the Louvre alongside "Findley" Morse
The one down side to his enjoyable read is the mangled French pronunciation
We also bought the hard-bound book to be able to enjoy photos of the players and their paintings as McCullough spoke of them. A truly masterful work.
Yes I will, because I want to come back to the historical passages I am not as familiar with such as the remarkable story of US Ambassador Elihu Washburne, the tribulations of the medical students in Paris, or simply the rise of all those American artists who did their training in Paris.
Oh publishers what were you thinking? Yes Hermann is a good narrator but he butchers French in a book that takes place in Paris! This is the usual complaint about a narrator who does not know the language or regional peculiarities of where the book takes place. There is a passage in the book in which an American's awful accent got him out of a pickle, the joke there got quite lost I can assure you. Fortunately there are long passages in American where one can appreciate Hermann's narration.
David McCullough does know how to build up tension. There are artist so well known still today that we know how well or poorly they did, but many more whom we are not so sure about and McCullough knows how to take the reader along on the discovery of the outcome of the life of Augustus Saint Gaudens and many others.
There are places such as the Cathedral in Rouen, (on the way from the harbor at Le Havres to Paris), that entranced so many visitors that you want to go see it too, there is the Louvres and you want to discover for yourself what Harriet Beecher Stowe found so mesmerizing in the Raft of the Medusa and go see what James Fenimore Cooper and his friend Morse saw.
The book starts off a bit dull, but hang in there by the time you get to the chapters on the Americans students in medicine you will not be able to put it down.
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