I enjoy books by David McCullough very much, and this latest one is no exception. He has taken a little-known slice of American history and turned it into a large and extremely interesting work.
The book details the many young Americans who gravitated to Paris during the 19th century. They came as students of literature, politics, medicine, and the various arts. Paris beckoned because, at that time, it was the center of much culture for the Western world. These young people came, and many stayed for significant numbers of years, to learn and to practice what they learned.
One of the most interesting aspects of the book is the mini biographies of the Americans that Ambrose reveals, and he also gives a history of Paris during that time, including the political, the artistic and the architectural. Every bit of it is fascinating.
Even though the book ends at the turn of the 20th century, we know that the lure of Paris did not end. Famous folks such as Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein, among others, lived and worked in Paris in the new century..
I've never been to Paris, and probably never will, but this book has enabled me to become very well acquainted with the "City of Light" and I feel that I know the city much, much more than I have ever before. Read the book; I'm sure you will enjoy it as much as I have.
McCullough quietly manages a small masterpiece of narrative history - while "The Greater Journey" is a gentle history of Americans (mostly writers and artists, but also doctors, students, and businessmen) who lived and worked in Paris in the 1800s, McCullough has also managed to retell the traumatic history of the century through their tales and time in Paris. Journey's three parts roughly correspond to the three epochs of French government in the century: … more
I'm a small town general practice attorney in the hard coal region of Pennsylvania. Books are my passion, andI read as many of them asI can. Being the President of the local library board for over … more
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, June 2011: At first glance,The Greater Journey: Americans in Parismight seem to be foreign territory for David McCullough, whose other books have mostly remained in the Western Hemisphere. ButThe Greater Journeyis 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