The Greater Journey
Americans in Paris
By David McCullough
(Simon & Schuster, Paperback, 9781416571773, 558pp.)
Publication Date: May 15, 2012
List Price: $20.00*
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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.
His books have been praised for their scholarship, their understanding of American life, their "vibrant prose," and insight into individual character. Mr. McCullough's most recent book, "1776", the number one "New York Times" national bestseller in both hardcover and paperback, has been called, "brilliant...powerful," "a classic." There are three million copies in print, while Mr. McCullough's previous work, "John Adams", remains one of the most critically acclaimed and widely read American biographies of all time. It is presently in its sixty-third printing.
"John Adams", a seven-part mini-series on HBO begins March 16. Produced by Tom Hanks, it stars Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney.
In the words of the citation accompanying his honorary degree from Yale, "As an historian, he paints with words, giving us pictures of the American people that live, breathe, and above all, confront the fundamental issues of courage, achievement, and moral character."
Mr. McCullough's other books include "The Johnstown Flood, The Great Bridge, The Path between the Seas, Mornings on Horseback, Brave Companions, " and "Truman". His work has been published in ten languages and, in all, nearly 9,000,000 copies are in print. As may be said of few writers, none of his books has ever been out of print.
David McCullough is as well twice winner of the prestigious Francis Parkman Prize, and for his work overall he has been honored by the National Book Foundation Distinguished Contribution to American Letters Award and the National Humanities Medal. He has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as the American Academy of Arts and Letters and has received more than forty honorary degrees.
In a crowded, productive career, he has been an editor, essayist, teacher, lecturer, and familiar presence on public television -- as host of "Smithsonian World, The American Experience", and narrator of numerous documentaries including "The Civil War". His is also the narrator's voice in the movie "Seabiscuit".
A gifted speaker, Mr. McCullough has lectured in all parts of the country and abroad, as well as at the White House. He is also one of the few private citizens to speak before a joint session of Congress.
Born in Pittsburgh, Mr. McCullough was educated there and at Yale, where he was graduated with honors in English literature. He is an avid reader, traveler, and has enjoyed a lifelong interest in art and architecture. He is as well a devoted painter. Mr. McCullough and his wife Rosalee Barnes McCullough have five children and eighteen grandchildren.
His current project is a book about Americans in Paris, from the 1830's to 1930's.
"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
“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)