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The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris [Kindle Edition]

David McCullough
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £12.99
Kindle Price: £8.49 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
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Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
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Book Description

The #1 bestseller that tells the remarkable story of the generations of American artists, writers, and doctors who traveled to Paris, the intellectual, scientific, and artistic capital of the western world, fell in love with the city and its people, and changed America through what they learned, told by America’s master historian, David McCullough.

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.


Product Description

Review

"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"

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)


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 15196 KB
  • Print Length: 578 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1416571760
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (24 May 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0050N3AUY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #130,384 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
"Learn to do good;" -- Isaiah 1:17 (NKJV)

This is the most engaging history book I've read so far in 2011.

While I was in college, I focused my studies on 19th century France because almost every possible variation of human history occurred there at some point between 1789 and 1914. In the course of those studies, I became very familiar with how French people and Europeans saw Paris. But it never occurred to me to apply the special lens of how visiting and expatriate Americans experienced the City of Light. I feel extremely grateful to David McCullough for conceiving of and brilliantly executing this book.

I should mention that I have read in great detail how 18th and 20th century Americans saw Paris. How I missed reading about the 19th century is beyond me.

One of the fascinating themes is how Americans went from being humble learners, seeking to gain from greater French knowledge of the arts and medicine, to being influential innovators bringing new influences (such as Morse's telegraph, Edison's electric lights, and John Singer Sargent's portraiture). Paris itself stretched to become a bigger stage on which technical progress was shared through the various exhibitions.

To me one of the best aspects of this book was becoming a little bit familiar with fascinating Americans who I didn't know much about before such as painter George P. A. Healy, American minister to France Elihu B. Washburne, and sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens.

Naturally, Paris itself is the biggest character and David McCullough treats her with proper reverence.

I was particularly charmed by the descriptions of difficult Atlantic crossings in sailing ships, riding in French stagecoaches (diligences) to Paris, and how the newly arrived reacted to seeing their first French cathedrals, especially the one at Rouen.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A book that should not have been published 22 April 2012
By BWL
Format:Hardcover
As many other reviewers have noted on Amazon.com, this book is disjointed in style and written without any underlying theme or analysis. For much of its length it reads very much like a poorly crafted catalogue or cookbook. Could this be the great David McCullough who has written this? The author seems to have no real mastery of his subject matter, and the words commercial and superficial rang in my ears as I read it.

And yet with a more knowledgeable writer the story could have been a fascinating read. The interplay of French and Americans, surely should have offered a revealing contrast between the character and culture of each group. Instead, in "The Greater Journey," the French and Paris are simply used as a backdrop for the heroic actions of Americans artists, who work hard to satisfy their insatiable ambitions, while finding themselves to be true blue, back home patriots. The book could almost have been set in Indianapolis.

As for accuracy, on page 219 McCullough claims that a Cunard line ship, the Pacific, sank in 1856 with all passengers and crew lost. However, as it is widely known, Cunard never lost a passenger's life in its long and famous history. In fact the Pacific belonged to the ill fated American Collins Line. It is this type of very basic mistake which makes one wonder about McCullough and his work on this book.

Too bad about this! It was my first David McCullough book and I was expecting something great.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A breathtaking look at Paris in the 19th century 18 Sept. 2012
By R Helen
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I thought this book was beautiful. I also thought this book was inspiring. To read about so many Americans who picked up and sailed to France to enrich their lives, advance their learning, and soak up the knowledge, the culture, the atmosphere, and the beauty of the world's centre for arts, science, and medicine, was to be transported to another era and to experience Paris as it was in the 19th century. This book made me want to take that trip myself; to walk down the Paris streets, to experience her gardens, her museums, her light, her beauty, and her mystery. "The Greater Journey" is a sweeping history of Paris in the 19th century, yet it is also the story of many Americans who came there first to learn and eventually to give over in return. For them it was truly "the greater journey," but it is also for us too, a journey through history, through art, through medicine,and through the passion of the human soul. It is such a wonderful book and I highly recommend it.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars WHY PARIS 21 July 2012
By Red Rock Bookworm TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
purchased David McCullough's THE GREATER JOURNEY for my husband since he is an avid history buff and had enjoyed the writer's previous books JOHN ADAMS and TRUMAN. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the book lying, unread while he consumed other books. When I asked about this he said, "I just can't get into this one. It's like there's something missing. I decided to read the book myself.....can't spend all that money on a book and not at least give it a try, right?

This previously untold tale spans approximately 70 years and tells of the lives of the Americans, some you would recognize and others whose names and deeds fall into the realm of obscure. Paris in the mid to late 1800's seems to have had some magical attraction for Americans seeking further enlightenment in their chosen area of interest and this resulted in it becoming a "melting pot" of sorts for artists, politicians, writers and a plethora of others. Paris, according to McCullough was the common factor that was instrumental to each of the subjects during a crucial stage in their development.

Personally, I can relate to some of my husbands frustration with the book. While I found some of the information interesting the novel itself is nothing more than a collection of basically unrelated, loosely connected stories that sometimes lack focus and direction as they wander aimlessly through history. Admittedly, parts of the book are enjoyable, however there are instances where the writer overwhelms the reader with a mind numbing and relentless surplus of insignificant minutia. Also, while McCullough is never at a loss for words when presenting `page filling' observations, I never did receive any real clarification as to why all these people decided on Paris.
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