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The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris Kindle Edition
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Not all pioneers went west.
In The Greater Journey, David McCullough tells the enthralling, inspiring—and until now, untold—story of the adventurous American artists, writers, doctors, politicians, and others who set off for Paris in the years between 1830 and 1900, hungry to learn and to excel in their work. What they achieved would profoundly alter American history.
Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female doctor in America, was one of this intrepid band. Another was Charles Sumner, whose encounters with black students at the Sorbonne inspired him to become the most powerful voice for abolition in the US Senate. Friends James Fenimore Cooper and Samuel F. B. Morse worked unrelentingly every day in Paris, Morse not only painting what would be his masterpiece, but also bringing home his momentous idea for the telegraph. Harriet Beecher Stowe traveled to Paris to escape the controversy generated by her book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Three of the greatest American artists ever—sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, painters Mary Cassatt and John Singer Sargent—flourished in Paris, inspired by French masters.
Almost forgotten today, the heroic American ambassador Elihu Washburne bravely remained at his post through the Franco-Prussian War, the long Siege of Paris, and the nightmare of the Commune. His vivid diary account of the starvation and suffering endured by the people of Paris is published here for the first time.
Telling their stories with power and intimacy, McCullough brings us into the lives of remarkable men and women who, in Saint-Gaudens’ phrase, longed “to soar into the blue.”
--Claude R. Marx, "The Washington Times
"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
"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
"An epic of ideas, as well as an exhilirating book of spells . . . This is history to be savored."
--Stacy Schiff, "The New York Times Book 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
"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"
"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)
"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)
"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)
"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
"--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
- ASIN : B0050N3AUY
- Publisher : Simon & Schuster; Illustrated edition (May 24, 2011)
- Publication date : May 24, 2011
- Language : English
- File size : 19514 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 578 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Customer Reviews:
About the authors
Top reviews from the United States
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Yet, David McCullough has once again managed to captivate me with these interwoven stories of inventors, doctors, and artists and the deep entwinement that marks American and French history. The book is interesting, first of all, because the book centers on a place rather than a person (McCullough is perhaps first thought of by most as a biographer), so I was curious to see if and how he could "bring to life" a 19th-century city.
Of course, this is the David McCullough of "John Adams" fame, so there was never much in the way of doubt as to what he could actually accomplish. There is an unbelievable ease to his writing. Though his scholarship is immense (especially when you consider all the excerpts from personal letters and diaries), it never weighs the story down nor does it give the book the "clunky" feel so common to most academic works. Perhaps that is due to McCullough's virtually-inerrant sense for the "telling" anecdote that encapsulates the point or captures the spirit of what he is trying to convey. Here are stories of the formative years of many of America's "leading lights" of the 19th century: Samuel F.B. Morse, George Catlin, Mary Cassatt, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and John Singer Sargent, among others…all told with ease and grace and fine sense of the entanglement that makes human life and society so rich and exciting.
If the book does anything, I believe it shows, first of all, the deep kinship that bonds the United States of America to the country of France. It also reminds me that, though world history is vast and complicated, for all intents and purposes, the modern world revolved around Paris for much of the 19th century…artistically, technologically, medically, politically. Perhaps our postmodern ethos has made us so intent on telling the "forgotten" stories of history (a moral duty, no doubt) that we've almost lost the ability to discern the "pivotal" stories that have shaped not just the contemporary moment but the trajectories of decades and even centuries to come. There are "centers" to world events (assuredly not all Western European or North American), and McCullough's thoughtful portrayal has me considering where such influence might be found today. That is the ultimate power of good history: to recall the past in such a way as to reshape our comprehension of the present. And that is precisely what David McCullough's work unfailingly does.
Some may find this approach boring, but this is still vintage David McCullough thinking and prose. I found most of the stories illuminating, and figures like Elihu Washburn were revelations for me. McCullough gave me insights on Americans that I thought that I knew well (J F Cooper, J S Sargent, ...). My knowledge of 19th century Paris was greatly expanded as well.
If you enjoy history books that travel less well known byways, this book should appeal.
Top reviews from other countries
I have to thank Amazon very much for recommending The Greater Journey as one of their daily suggestions. I was dubious about the subtitle “Americans in Paris“ but I took a chance, it was a reasonable price and I love most things Parisian. I even hesitated to start readIng the book, I have so many other books I “need“ to read. I thought I would just read a few pages and see how it was (this is me - not the world's authority - hesitating to read an author that I later discover is a double Pulitzer Prize winner - sorry).
I will tell you how it was for me, it was engrossing, enthralling and entirely wonderful.