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
If you want a breezy recanting of the opinions of shallow people--this is it. I'm used to McCullough doing bio's in depth on people of substance--Truman, Adams, etc. If you want a study in how shallow and trivial the literary and arts crowd can be by comparison to people of real world accomplishments...
This was a good book, though I think it spends too much time discussing details that are not too relevant, like the artistic styles of various Americans in Paris. I did learn some, though not as much as I had hoped from this book. Near the end there is an informative discussion of the Franco-Prussian War and the Paris Commune that I did like quite a lot.
There are few books begging for a sequel because the story is closed. The affair with Paris continues and will never be finished. McCullough has blazed the way for many succeeding tales of not just americans in Paris, but asians, north africans and every other nation's best, who have made the journey and have have had their way with this great lady who with ease accomodates them all.
This is one of the best histories I've listened to. At no point does it drag. I was fascinated with everyone McCullough discussed in the book. At times, it almost reads like a narration of some great fictional work, the subjects are so interesting. Of course, this is nothing new for David McCullough, as all of his histories have this quality.
As with all of McCullough's books, "The Greater Journey" is filled with memorable characters--James Fennimore Cooper; Samuel B. Morse; Augustus St. Gaudens; and best of all, Elihu Washburne, the hero of the siege of Paris. McCullough's material here lacks the same strong narrative thread that makes works like "1776" and "Truman" as irresistable as potato chips. Instead, there are several narrative clusters: Cooper and Morse, which is full of quotes from wonderful letters and diaries; Washburne's time as ambassador, which will make you proud to be an American and amazed that his name is not better known; and the artists of the late 19th century, such as St. Gaudens, Whistler, and Cassatt. The first two clusters are fascinating; the last merely interesting--and the end a weak fade-out. But it's still far better than 90% of the other history audiobooks on this site, and Edward Herrmann is McCullough's best reader (after Nelson Runger).
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I don't care what kind of butter they ate in Paris or how bumpy the road was getting there. I want to hear about their intellectual experiences. Does it ever get to that? I will never know. It is too boring to continue listening.
Full time Internal Medicine practice and serious amateur Landscape photographer. Utilizes driving hours listening to spy and thriller Audiobooks. Loves to travel to places with mountains, green waters and beaches with wife.
As always, it is a pleasure to listen to Prof McCullough's new book. His mind is a repository of historical vignettes. I wonder if he used his enduring typewriter again. He should however give up narrating his book to some younger guys like Scott Brick.
Probably not -- I started out enjoying it, but it went on too long. Stopped listening half way through.
The reading is so boring I could not listen to this one. I think this one is a waste of money. Even when I turned the speed up I got bored.
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