The Greater Journey

The Greater Journey

Americans in Paris

Book - 2011
Average Rating:
Rate this:
The Greater Journey focuses on the period between 1830 and 1900, when hundreds of Americans--many of them future household names like Oliver Wendell Holmes, Mark Twain, Samuel Morse, John Singer Sargent and Harriet Beecher Stowe--migrated to Paris. McCullough shows first how the City of Light affected each of them in turn, and how they later moved back to America to help shape American art, medicine, writing, science, and politics in profound ways.The Greater Journey is filled with wonderful descriptions of the old Paris before it was re-made by Haussmann's grand boulevards, and of the city's great places, especially the Louvre, the Tuileries, and Notre Dame, which never failed to inspire visitors and expatriates.
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, c2011
ISBN: 9781416571766
Characteristics: 558 p., [48] p. of plates : ill. (some col.), maps. --
Alternative Title: Americans in Paris


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Oct 10, 2017

Throughly enjoyed this book! I think it is probably like taking an art history course. I learned so much about American Artists and happily have gotten to see some of their Art first hand recently. I have also seen some of their pieces in the past and reading this book rekindles excitement. Knowing more details of an artists background helps illuminate their finished works. Very interesting to learn about the Artists inter-relationships through Paris and all the energy and innovation taking place at this time. McCullough's writing almost makes you feel a part of this time in history!

Mar 28, 2017

Probing research whose results are related in detail-rich anecdotes without much in the way of preconceived prejudice (except that the Paris Commune was a Very Bad Thing!).

While set in Paris, the city is evoked only in relation to the experience of Americans in the 19th century. The subject, that is, is Americans in Paris from circa 1820 to circa 1900, and nothing else. The author refrains altogether from talking about the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, which gives reading the volume a pleasantly escapist feeling.

McCullough's pedestrian style doesn't rival the prose of many of his subjects, but the book is so rich in lengthy quotations that an impatient reader never has long to wait for a change of voice. (This unpretentious style is no doubt one of the reasons for McCullough's popular success.)

The individuals the author is most interested in are artists.

Nov 24, 2013

I've been listening to the book on CD and decided I needed to get the hard copy to follow up on all the characters he talks about. I am fascinated to hear history from the point of view of individuals and interested in how he researched and developed all the stories.

Terry1865 Aug 15, 2013

This book was just recommended to me. It is marvelous! McCullough covers medical student Oliver Wendell Holmes, Minister to France Elihu Washburne and the sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens in special detail. Many other famous persons from history are intertwined throughout the book.I very much enjoyed following the stories of these adventurous characters to the end of their lives,

Sep 27, 2012

While I learned a lot about the city of Paris and the Americans who have visited it between the 1830s to the end of the nineteenth century, McCullough’s approach is staid, elitist and old school. Horatio Alger is an unmentioned presence, and he clearly admires ambition, success, fame and power. The Greater Journey is a history of “winners”—a kind I rarely read anymore. The book’s premise is interesting, but the results are disappointing. I’m neither as sympathetic to any of the reigning monarchs as this writer evidently is nor as dismissive of the radical forces that struggled to overthrow them. Many voices are left out, and there’s much more to the narratives that are included than this author is willing to relate (or, in all likelihood, capable of seeing).

LisaRiegel Feb 14, 2012

As always, McCullough bring history to life through his detailed, skillful and beautifully paced storytelling.

gracindaisy Jan 14, 2012

In the 1800’s Paris was the cultural capital of the world – a mecca for artists, writers, and doctors. Many famous and not so famous Americans - Elizabeth Blackwell, James Fenimore Cooper, George Healy, Samuel Morse, John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt, Augustus Saint-Gaudens and many others.

Oct 19, 2011

A slightly rambling but very interesting account of Americans in Paris in the 19th century, before the usually studied period of the early 20th.

Oct 17, 2011

had to return book before I read it.

Aug 04, 2011

What a wonderful trip back in time! This delightful book not only took me on a trip to Paris in the 19th century, but it provided vivid pictures and well explained descriptions of Art History, medical advancement, social structure, and American History via a detour thru Europe. David McCullough writes books that educate as well as entertain.

View All Comments

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

Mar 28, 2017

jensenmk thinks this title is suitable for All Ages


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at PPL

To Top