The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris


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THE GREATER JOURNEY conveys the enthralling, inspiring – and until now, untold – story of the adventurous American artists, writers, doctors, politicians, architects, and others of high aspiration, who set off for Paris in the years between 1830 and 1900, ambitious to excel in their work. None had any guarantee of success. That they achieved so much for themselves and their country profoundly altered American history. As David McCullough writes, “Not all pioneers went west.” Among the intrepid journeyers that McCullough profiles, are Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female doctor in America, Charles Sumner, the great abolitionist, writer James Fenimore Cooper and the painter Samuel F.B. Morse, medical student Oliver Wendell Holmes, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain, and Henry James – all “discovering” Paris, Nearly all of these Americans, whatever their troubles learning French, their spells of homesickness, and their suffering in the raw cold winters by the Seine, spent many of the happiest days and nights of their lives in Paris. Pulitzer Prize-winner David McCullough tells this sweeping story with power and intimacy, bringing the lives of these remarkable figures into our contemporary age. Source Notes, Bibliography, Index. Color illustrations. 558p.

Editorial Reviews

An ambitious, wide-ranging study of how being in Paris helped spark generations of American genius.

Not content to focus on a few of the 19th-century American artists, doctors and statesmen who benefited enormously from their Parisian education, award-winningÂ;;;;;;;;; ;;;;;;;;;historian McCullough (1776, 2005, etc.) embraces a cluster of aspiring young people such as portraitist George Healy and lawyer Charles Sumner, eager to expand their horizons in the 1830s by enduring the long sea passage, then spirals out to include numerous other visitors over an entire eventful century. In the early period of trans-Atlantic travel, American tourists were truly risking their lives over the weeks of rough sailing, but novelist James Fenimore Cooper, widowed schoolteacher Emma Hart Willard and young medical student Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. all knew their education was not complete without a stint in the medieval capital. For many of these American rubes, exposure to the fine arts, old-world architecture, fashion, fine dining, museums and teaching hospitals proved transformative, and the knowledge they gained would define their professional lives back in America. The year in Paris artist Samuel Morse painted his extraordinaryÂ;;;;;;;;; ;;;;;;;;;The Gallery of the LouvreÂ;;;;;;;;; ;;;;;;;;;would provide the climax of one careerÂ;;;;;;;;; ;;;;;;;;;and segue into another—as inventor of the electric telegraph. The revolutionary upheaval of 1848, the advent of the Second Empire and the massive redesign wrought by ";;;;;;;;;demolition artist";;;;;;;;; Georges-EugÃ;;;;;;;;;¨;;;;;;;;;ne Haussmann changed Paris profoundly, some said for the better, while the Americans continued to arrive: sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Congressman Elihu B. Washburne and painter Mary Cassatt, among many others. For some, like John Singer Sargent, who had been brought up traversing European capitals, their time spent in Paris would reveal what made them quintessentially American.

A gorgeously rich, sparkling patchwork, eliciting stories from diaries and memoirs to create the human drama McCullough depicts so well.

Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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