Rated Best Book of 2011, Runner Up by BookBrowse Members
Gorgeous and exhilarating, The Greater Journey
surveys the varieties of American greatness expressed over a seventy-year period in Paris. McCullough demonstrates how Paris was a muse to a variety of American men and women (among them, academics, scientists, artists, and politicians), and he describes how the city's cultural and political offerings tested, inspired, educated, ennobled and enabled its talented American visitors.
Despite the breathtaking range and fascinating intricacies of McCullough's history, including the varied achievements of Americans in Paris and the many splendors of the city, a modest but powerful preoccupation connects the stories - work, hard work, relentless work. The disparate individuals McCullough follows are united by a serious sense of purpose that carries...
Beyond the Book
No review can do justice to the range of McCullough's book, the number of intriguing Americans he chronicles, or the important works they produced. Notable, memorable, and especially moving are McCullough's accounts of George Catlin, painter of Native Americans, and the group of Iowans who visited Paris with him; of P.T. Barnum and Tom Thumb's triumphant visit; of Harriet Beecher Stowe's almost physical reaction to Gericault's The Raft of the Medusa
in the Louvre; of Augustus Saint-Gaudens's rise from a poor apprentice to masterful creator of revolutionary sculptures; of John Singer Sargent's genius as a painter and the creation of his scandalous portrait of the alluring "Madame X".