Tony's Reviews > The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris

The Greater Journey by David McCullough
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's review
Jul 02, 11

bookshelves: biography
Read in July, 2011

McCullough, David. THE GREATER JOURNEY: Americans in Paris. (2011). ****.
McCullough, an eminent historian with a gift for writing popular histories, has here taken a look at Paris as a focal point in the lives of gifted, or soon-to-be-gifted Americans who travelled there in the 19th century to experience what the city would offer that would provide additional inspiration to their careers. He has mostly concentrated on the periods of about two decades each on each side of our American Civil War. Of course, he could not write about this period without writing about the history of Paris at the same time, so we get a brush-up on our French history concurrently. He writes about a great number of Americans, including James Fenimore Cooper, Samuel Morse, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Charles Sumner, and many, many others. These were a class of people, mostly artists, who had not travelled before out of the States. They were looking to broaden their experiences and apply that broadening to their art. They also believed that Paris represented the ultimate in modernity and in its records of the past as embodied by its artifacts and its art as displayed in the Louvre. This is a fascinating book that will reveal facets of the characters discussed of which we were not aware – at least I wasn’t. The book is also illustrated with contemporary prints and paintings that provide a visual catalog of many of the individuals and/or their work. Recommended.
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