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

The Greater Journey by David McCullough
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Sep 07, 11

Read in September, 2011

I like David McCullough's writing on American history. I've enjoyed his other books. I watched his publicity blitz for this one as he appeared on BookTV and Charlie Rose and other similar shows. By the time I read the book, I'd heard many of the stories in it, so it was a bit of a let-down. The book tells many stories of many Americans in the 19th century who came to Paris to study art or medicine or just to expand their cultural horizons. With so many narrative threads going, you don't really get caught up in any one story--with the possible exception of Elihu B. Washburne, a congressman from Illinois who became the American ambassador to France in (I think) the Grant administration. He stayed in the city during the Prussian siege of Paris and the Commune uprising and kept a diary. McCullough knows great material when he sees it, so Washburne's compelling story dominates the middle of the book--a man who worked hard to do the good by doing the work that was in front of him.
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