The Greater Journey

The Greater Journey

Americans in Paris

Book - 2011
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This is the 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. 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. Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female doctor in America; future abolitionist Charles Sumner; staunch friends James Fenimore Cooper and Samuel F. B. Morse (who saw something in France that gave him the idea for the telegraph); pianist Louis Moreau Gottschalk; medical student Oliver Wendell Holmes; writers Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain, and Henry James; Harriet Beecher Stowe, seeking escape from the notoriety Uncle Tom's Cabin had brought her; sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens and painters Mary Cassatt and John Singer Sargent; and American ambassador Elihu Washburne, who bravely remained at his post through the Franco-Prussian War, the long Siege of Paris and even more atrocious nightmare of the Commune. His vivid account in his diary of the starvation and suffering endured by the people of Paris (drawn on here for the first time) is one readers will never forget. Nearly all of these Americans, whatever their troubles, spent many of the happiest days and nights of their lives in Paris.--From publisher description.
McCullough mixes famous and obscure names and delivers capsule biographies of everyone to produce a colorful parade of educated, Victorian-era American travelers and their life-changing experiences in Paris.
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, 2011
Edition: First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition
ISBN: 9781416571766
Branch Call Number: 920 Mc
Description: 558 pages, 48 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color), maps ; 25 cm
Alternative Title: Americans in Paris

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Jan 22, 2019

There is not much Mr. Mccullough gets wrong and this subject matter is delightfully powerful. The coincidence of powerful historical occurence would overrun a lesser writer. This is a gift to the collective minds.

Oct 10, 2017

Throughly enjoyed this book! I think it is probably like taking an art history course. I learned so much about American Artists and happily have gotten to see some of their Art first hand recently. I have also seen some of their pieces in the past and reading this book rekindles excitement. Knowing more details of an artists background helps illuminate their finished works. Very interesting to learn about the Artists inter-relationships through Paris and all the energy and innovation taking place at this time. McCullough's writing almost makes you feel a part of this time in history!

Mar 28, 2017

Probing research whose results are related in detail-rich anecdotes without much in the way of preconceived prejudice (except that the Paris Commune was a Very Bad Thing!).

While set in Paris, the city is evoked only in relation to the experience of Americans in the 19th century. The subject, that is, is Americans in Paris from circa 1820 to circa 1900, and nothing else. The author refrains altogether from talking about the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, which gives reading the volume a pleasantly escapist feeling.

McCullough's pedestrian style doesn't rival the prose of many of his subjects, but the book is so rich in lengthy quotations that an impatient reader never has long to wait for a change of voice. (This unpretentious style is no doubt one of the reasons for McCullough's popular success.)

The individuals the author is most interested in are artists.

Nov 24, 2013

I've been listening to the book on CD and decided I needed to get the hard copy to follow up on all the characters he talks about. I am fascinated to hear history from the point of view of individuals and interested in how he researched and developed all the stories.

Terry1865 Aug 15, 2013

This book was just recommended to me. It is marvelous! McCullough covers medical student Oliver Wendell Holmes, Minister to France Elihu Washburne and the sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens in special detail. Many other famous persons from history are intertwined throughout the book.I very much enjoyed following the stories of these adventurous characters to the end of their lives,

While I learned a lot about the city of Paris and the Americans who have visited it between the 1830s to the end of the nineteenth century, McCullough’s approach is staid, elitist and old school. Horatio Alger is an unmentioned presence, and he clearly admires ambition, success, fame and power. The Greater Journey is a history of “winners”—a kind I rarely read anymore. The book’s premise is interesting, but the results are disappointing. I’m neither as sympathetic to any of the reigning monarchs as this writer evidently is nor as dismissive of the radical forces that struggled to overthrow them. Many voices are left out, and there’s much more to the narratives that are included than this author is willing to relate (or, in all likelihood, capable of seeing).

LisaRiegel Feb 14, 2012

As always, McCullough bring history to life through his detailed, skillful and beautifully paced storytelling.

gracindaisy Jan 14, 2012

In the 1800’s Paris was the cultural capital of the world – a mecca for artists, writers, and doctors. Many famous and not so famous Americans - Elizabeth Blackwell, James Fenimore Cooper, George Healy, Samuel Morse, John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt, Augustus Saint-Gaudens and many others.

Oct 19, 2011

A slightly rambling but very interesting account of Americans in Paris in the 19th century, before the usually studied period of the early 20th.

Oct 17, 2011

had to return book before I read it.

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Mar 28, 2017

jensenmk thinks this title is suitable for All Ages


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