The Greater Journey

  • by David McCullough
  • Narrated by Edward Herrmann
  • 16 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Fascinating Look at Paris & Americans in mid 1900s

I agree with Rick and jesse's reviews. I didn't know what to expect but I took a bit of chance because: a) author has been so reliable; and b) outline of book.
The story is not a linear unfolding of a person's life as in 'John Adams'. It is a somewhat linear story (although the timeline is not always straight*) of some noteworthy Americans (some readily known and some more obscure) and how their journey's to Paris impacted first, their lives and ultimately their impact on art, medicine, innovation and on a growing America.
At that time, the knowledge and experience of the arts and medicine in Paris was vastly more than in the US. The people profiled in these pages mostly traveled there, in difficult circumstances, to gain knowledge and expertise. But it isn't only about how Paris affected some Americans. Many of these people also made their own impact on Paris and the arts. The particularly heartwarming story of Elihu Washburne illustrates how an American affected so many lives compassionately in a time of war.
I was very glad I chose this book and looked forward to listening to it every day. The stories of the struggling and ultimately acclaimed American artists will prod me to investigate them more and see some of their artworks.
*Often, Mr McCullough will unfold the actions of a main character when he/she is an adult at the time of traveling to or being in Paris. Then, later, he will tell the back-story of that person. It was easy to get used to.
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- Jana

Exceptional view of history and people.

A thoroughly enjoyable, intriguing view of people and events. The interplay of great artists, writers and other notables, particularly during their most formative years, is absoloutely fascinating. Edward Herrmann's narration is, as always, outstanding. A great read and highly recommended.
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- Richard

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-24-2011
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio