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The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris Hardcover – May 24, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 558 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st edition (May 24, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416571760
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416571766
  • Product Dimensions: 1.7 x 6.7 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (555 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,572 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, June 2011: At first glance, The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris might seem to be foreign territory for David McCullough, whose other books have mostly remained in the Western Hemisphere. But The Greater Journey is still a quintessentially American history. Between 1830 and 1900, hundreds of Americans--many of them future household names like Oliver Wendell Holmes, Mark Twain, Samuel Morse, and Harriet Beecher Stowe--migrated to Paris. McCullough shows first how the City of Light affected each of them in turn, and how they helped shape American art, medicine, writing, science, and politics in profound ways when they came back to the United States. McCullough's histories have always managed to combine meticulous research with sheer enthusiasm for his subjects, and it's hard not to come away with a sense that you've learned something new and important about whatever he's tackled. The Greater Journey is, like each of McCullough's previous histories, a dazzling and kaleidoscopic foray into American history by one of its greatest living chroniclers. --Darryl Campbell

Review

"An epic of ideas, as well as an exhilirating book of spells . . . This is history to be savored."
(Stacy Schif The New York Times Book Review)

“An ambitious, wide-ranging study of how being in Paris helped spark generations of American genius. . . . A gorgeously rich, sparkling patchwork, eliciting stories from diaries and memoirs to create the human drama McCullough depicts so well.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“A lively and entertaining panorama. . . . By the time he shows us the triumphant Exposition Universelle in 1889, witnessed through the eyes of such characters as painters John Singer Sargent and Robert Henri, we share McCullough's enthusiasm for the city and his affection for the many Americans who improved their lives, their talent and their nation by drinking at the fountain that was Paris.”
—Michael Sims, The Washington Post

"From a dazzling beginning that captures the thrill of arriving in Paris in 1830 to the dawn of the 20th century, McCullough chronicles the generations that came, saw and were conquered by Paris. . . . The Greater Journey will satisfy McCullough's legion of loyal fans . . . it will entice a whole new generation of Francophiles, armchair travelers and those Americans lucky enough to go to Paris before they die."
—Bruce Watson, The San Francisco Chronicle


"McCullough's skill as a storyteller is on full display. . . . The idea of telling the story of the French cultural contribution to America through the eyes of a generation of aspiring artists, writers and doctors is inspired. . . a compelling and largely untold story in American history."
—Kevin J. Hamilton, The Seattle Times


"There is not an uninteresting page here as one fascinating character after another is explored at a crucial stage of his development. . . . Wonderful, engaging writing full of delighting detail."
—John Barron, Chicago Sun-Times


“McCullough’s research is staggering to perceive, and the interpretation he lends to his material is impressive to behold. . . . Expect his latest book to ascend the best-seller lists and be given a place on the year-end best lists.”
—Booklist (starred review)

“A highly readable and entertaining travelogue of a special sort, an interdisciplinary treat from a tremendously popular Pulitzer Prize-winning historian. . . . Highly recommended.”
—Library Journal (starred review)

“For more than 40 years, David McCullough has brought the past to life in books distinguished by vigorous storytelling and vivid characterizations. . . . . McCullough again finds a slighted subject in The Greater Journey, which chronicles the adventures of Americans in Paris. . . . Wonderfully atmospheric.”
—Wendy Smith, Los Angeles Times


“McCullough has hit the historical jackpot. . . . A colorful parade of educated, Victorian-era American travelers and their life-changing experiences in Paris.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A rich and enjoyable literary experience. There are reminders on almost every page why Mr. McCullough is one of the nation's great popular historians."
—Claude R. Marx, The Washington Times


"McCullough wants us to know more than just the dry facts of our country's history; he wants us to the share the vivid emotional experience of those who inhabited it. . . . [he] reminds us of that with each shimmering, resonant page he writes. . . . The Greater Journey is the exhilarating story of what Americans learned [in Paris]."
—Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune

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Customer Reviews

Well done, David McCullough, well done!
Dai-keag-ity
The book is "The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris" and the author is historical writer, David McCullough.
Ralph D. Hermansen
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommended my sister read it as well.
Nena Lepore

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Every time David McCullough puts his fingers to the typewriter that he uses to write with, he seems to transform our understanding of the topic he is studying. Whether it was President Harry Truman or for me Mornings on Horseback, I have walked away from his books with an enlightened feel for the topic that I have only been able to achieve with very few authors. James Michener is one who comes to mind immediately.

With this book, The Greater Journey, the author has now thoroughly engaged the reader with a topic seldom written about but very deserving of study. It is only natural that we as Americans feel we live in a self centered world; after all we have 2 vast oceans that have protected our shores from invasion for several centuries, and probably will for several more. It simply does not occur to us that since our beginnings, many Americans have chosen to spend considerable time abroad, and in some cases decades of their lives.

During the 1800's and specifically from 1830 until 1900, there was a wave of intellectual migration that headed not west to America, but east to Paris, France from America. Keep in mind that we now sit in a country that is preeminent in the world, financially, intellectually, and probably culturally as well. Back then, we were just forming as a nation. The Indian wars were still in process, and the Civil War would also take place, which became the second re-creation of the United States. McCullough is totally aware of this comparison and makes wise use of it throughout this 456 page book composed of 14 distinct chapters separated into 3 parts, followed by a wonderful epilogue, and a very useful bibliography. The author understands history, and is always mindful of the relative positions of different nations.
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176 of 177 people found the following review helpful By Dai-keag-ity on May 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
If you read only one sentence of this review, please know that I think The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris is downright excellent and I'd highly recommend it!

As much as I enjoyed the books John Adams and 1776, there is something refreshing in seeing living treasure David McCullough depart from the 1700s, an era he knows vividly, and take a tromp through fresh ground. The Greater Journey was so good, so flowing and fast-paced I read through it a little too quickly, in one day to be exact, and emerged with the feeling that I cheated myself of what more properly should have been a lingering experience. Therefore, I plan to read it again in smaller bits in the near future!

That aside, this was among the more interesting history books I've opened in a long while. McCullough's style has never seemed sharper, more conversational, more authoritative or more learned. Where else is the City of Lights examined in such minute detail and from quite this angle? The museums, the streets, the gardens, the parties and salons, and most of all the people, natives and American alike are examined under the microscopic gaze of this finest of living historians. What emerges is an explanation of why Paris was so alluring then as today, and how their time spent there, often brief visits, shaped some of America's leading personages into the figures they went on to be in life. So many famous names leap out from these pages that it proves a who's who of a time and place. The life stories here are as good as biographies anywhere, and there's something to be learned on just about every page as McCullough makes time for many asides and anecdotes about those who passed through the French capital before and during la Belle Époque

To read this book is to feel a part of Paris 150 years ago, and that is the highest praise I think it is possible to give any historian! Well done, David McCullough, well done!
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234 of 243 people found the following review helpful By Eskypades VINE VOICE on May 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Ever since I picked up "John Adams", I have been an avid fan of David McCullough. His biography of Harry Truman is perhaps the best one I've ever read. McCullough has a knack for taking people or things that perhaps have escaped the popular limelight (such as the Panama Canal or the Brooklyn Bridge) and writes a completely captivating history of them. You do not simply read a McCullough book, you experience it.

When I first heard that McCullough was penning a new work focusing on the impact that Parisian life had on Americans of the 19th century, I was quite excited to say the least. And when I was offered the chance to do a pre-release review of "The Greater Journey," I was thrilled and jumped at the opportunity. McCullough did not disappoint.

"The Greater Journey" varies in focus from his other works. While the majority of his previous books have focused on political and engineering aspects of American history, "The Greater Journey" instead highlights many of the artistic influences of American history (Adams, Jefferson and Franklin get barely a mention). Although working with a large cast of characters such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mary Cassatt, Louis Moreau Gottschalk and Harriet Beecher Stowe, McCullough spotlights a few in more detail. Although Samuel F. B. Morse is more widely known for inventing the telegraph, McCullough spends more time discussing Morse's artistic work in the Louvre. Augustus Saint-Gaudens, sculptor of such memorials as the Farragut, Sherman and Robert Gould Shaw Memorials, was greatly influenced by his time in Paris. Of particular interest to me was the account of Elihu Washburne's efforts during the Franco-Prussian War to protect French, American and German citizens.
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