A Special Audio Presentation of Unabridged Selections
Personally Chosen by David McCullough
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. 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.”
Writer Emma Willard, who founded the first women’s college in America, was one of the intrepid bunch.
Another was Charles Sumner, who enrolled at the Sorbonne where he saw black students with the same ambition he had, and when he returned home, he would become the most powerful, unyielding voice for abolition in the U.S. Senate. James Fenimore Cooper and Samuel F. B. Morse worked unrelentingly every day in Paris, Cooper writing and Morse painting what would be his masterpiece. From something he saw in France, Morse would also bring home his momentous idea for the telegraph. Writers Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain, and Henry James were all “discovering” Paris, marveling at the treasures in the Louvre, or out with the Sunday throngs strolling the city’s boulevards and gardens. “At last I have come into a dreamland,” wrote Harriet Beecher Stowe, seeking escape from the notoriety Uncle Tom’s Cabin had brought her. The genius of sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens and painter George Healy would flourish in Paris, inspired by the examples of brillant French masters, and by Paris itself.
For this special audio presentation, McCullough has chosen a selection of portraits, excerpted in their
entirety, that bring us into the lives of these remarkable men and women. A sweeping, fascinating story
told with power and intimacy, The Greater Journey is itself a masterpiece.
Amazon Best Books of the Month, June 2011: At first glance, The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris might seem to be foreign territory for David McCullough, whose other books have mostly remained in the Western Hemisphere. But The Greater Journey is still a quintessentially American history. Between 1830 and 1900, hundreds of Americans--many of them future household names like Oliver Wendell Holmes, Mark Twain, Samuel Morse, and Harriet Beecher Stowe--migrated to Paris. McCullough shows first how the City of Light affected each of them in turn, and how they helped shape American art, medicine, writing, science, and politics in profound ways when they came back to the United States. McCullough's histories have always managed to combine meticulous research with sheer enthusiasm for his subjects, and it's hard not to come away with a sense that you've learned something new and important about whatever he's tackled. The Greater Journey is, like each of McCullough's previous histories, a dazzling and kaleidoscopic foray into American history by one of its greatest living chroniclers. --Darryl Campbell