The Sunday Review: The Greater Journey — Americans in Paris

After choosing this book for our Book Club, I had high expectations. David McCullough is a wonderful storyteller and has a knack for turning even the driest factoids into a compelling story. The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris is no exception to this writing style.

While listening to The Greater Journey in the car, I kept thinking back on the photos I took from the top of the Arc de Triomphe in 2010. Sometimes people skip going up into the Arc (an easy climb and short lines) and choose the Eiffel Tower instead, but I found the view from the top of the Arc to be breathtaking.

McCullough has chosen a representative group of Americans who went to Paris between 1830 and 1900, where their experiences helped to make them better statesmen, artists, musicians, and writers. He sets their very personal and sometimes mundane lives on the stage that was Paris in the 19th century, a turbulent and fascinating city.

As McCullough says in his author interview on, Americans in Paris is a kind of guidebook to Paris and the history of Americans in the City of Light. It’s an accessible and intimate look at a different set of American roots.

The audiobook on The Greater Journey is voiced by Edward Herrman and is easy to listen to, but I also ended up buying a book as there were many photos and references I wanted to come back to. I’m struggling with whether to keep this one in my library or to pass it on to Paris-loving friends!



If you are interested in getting out of your reading chair and actually visiting the City of Light, please feel free to contact me to help you with your travel plans.

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2 thoughts on “The Sunday Review: The Greater Journey — Americans in Paris

  1. Every American needs a copy of this book in his/her library. I thoroughly enjoyed reading my copy and learned many things about this often overlooked adventure in history. Love David McCullough’s writing!

    Thanks for his informative post. Now, I am dreaming!

  2. There’s so much to say about the characters in this story that it was hard to concentrate on one. I chose the Haussmann boulevards because his renovation of Paris wasn’t about Americans… but there’s definitely a post about Mary Cassatt still in my fingers. Thanks for commenting, Elizabeth!

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