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Review: "The Greater Journey – Americans in Paris," David McCullough


Another great journey from David McCullough. When I first saw the subtitle “Americans in Paris” I assumed, incorrectly, that the story would be about Americans, imbibing, writing, talking, reveling and culturally diving in to the rich milieu of 1920’s Paris. Of course, I was wrong, all for the better. This rich, detailed account reverently covers the years from the 1830’s until about 1900. Filled with an array of amazing individuals from Robert Morse to John Singer Sargeant it details a significant time arc in the history of Paris, through the words and letters of the Americans who lived it. Paris, revealed in its highest zenith, to its lowest nadir presents as the dominant feature and a truly living character. As one individual states, “When good Americans die, they go to Paris.”

Rich in detail and anecdote a reader can learns volumes about why Americans traveled to Paris, what they expected and what they found. Some were wealthy, some were not. Some were prestigious, others not. But Paris offered them all something and they often spent years or multiple trips to this center of both culture and upheaval. If it had gone on for another 500 pages I still would have been rapt and if I was inclined would be worth another read. The group of Americans who ventured there were certainly amazing in every respect. Intelligent, inquisitive, inspired they all believed that the experience of Paris was more than enough to justify their journey.

If you are an interested reader who values the stories of the past and desires to be satiated once again, read David McCullough.