The Greater Journey is 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.
After risking the hazardous journey across the Atlantic, these Americans embarked on a greater journey in the City of Light. Most had never left home, never experienced a different culture. 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.”
Nearly all of the Americans profiled here - including Elizabeth Blackwell, James Fenimore Cooper, Mark Twain, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Harriet Beecher Stowe - 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. McCullough tells this sweeping, fascinating story with power and intimacy, bringing us into the lives of remarkable men and women who, in Saint-Gaudens’s phrase, longed “to soar into the blue”. The Greater Journey is itself a masterpiece.
©2011 David McCullough (P)2011 Simon & Schuster
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By cath haye on 13-04-18

wonderful, real history

Loved this account of real people rather than just the historical events going on around them. Especially enjoyed the section on Washburne in 1870-71 and life in Paris during the war and the Commune. Will listen again.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By gregory m loyd on 12-07-11

McCullough takes it to the next level

I have read several of McCullough's books and have found each one to be enjoyable and educational. In The Greater Journey, he maximizes his gift as a biographer by weaving a fascinating cast of characters together during a pivotal time in American and European history. While reading this book, I have had the opportunity to visit several art museums and view works by the artists he writes about from France and America. My visits to the museums as well as to symphony performances were enriched through the reading of this outstanding book. Thank you, Mr. McCullough!

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14 of 14 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Jeff on 05-04-12


Lovers of Mcculloughs work were thrown an unexpected curve ball on this one. Firstly the topic of this book isn't as strong and defined as his other work and I think that that hurt his biggest fans expectations. The quality of the writing was also not quite up to par compared to his other work, which was a disappointment and surprising, because all his other books were so consistent in their greatness.

Having said all this, Mccullough's second best is still better than most others best. I to, was somewhat bewildered and disappointed as I made my way through the book but at some point my impression changed and I began to appreciate the underlying message of the stories related and by the the time I got to the end, those stories had a profound effect on me. I was elated by the examples of lives lived with such a beautiful balance. lives with art, music,and intellectual endeavors and friendships ingrained so deeply it was a heartwarming and exciting example of what life could be. Where a simple walk in a park could be a cherished memory for life. Where the values of/ in yourself and those around you were so wonderfully tuned enabling far greater depths in your relationships with friendship and family.

These are the things I got out of the book in the end and I suspect these are the things in the end that Mccullough was hoping to convey. Its this valuable revelation that elevates this book to 4 stars.

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13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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