The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris

“Not all pioneers went west.”

David McCullough

 Paris

I will confess that my 2013 OTR Reading Program was excessively optimistic!!  It is October;   only two months to go before 2013 will be replaced by the 2014 OTR Reading Program.  I am taking the “unread” books with me for they are simply too good to leave behind.  In the meantime, here is an update on my latest readings.

I first met (via reading) David McCullough a few years ago when I read “Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870 – 1914,” which was described as the “national bestselling epic.”   Released in 1978, it won the National Book Award, the Francis Parkman Prize, the Samuel Eliot Morison Award and the Cornelius Ryan Award.   And it won the OTR Award for one of the best books I have ever read.

David McCullough is first and foremost a storyteller.  He weaves and integrates stories within stories, unlocking a time portal that holds all the dramas, comedies, and tragedies that life has to offer.  Dates, locations, names take on the vibrancy of the present so that the reader is an active participant within the halls of an almost forgotten history.

“The Greater Journey – Americans in Paris,” which was released May 15, 2012, was the account of the audacious Americans who set sail for Paris during the tumultuous years of 1830 – 1900.   Paris was where art, science, medicine and philosophy were at their peak.  It was simply the best place to obtain an education.  I was amazed by the number of people who made the hazardous journey across the ocean, yet their rewards were worth the risk.  What they gained during their time abroad profoundly altered American history. Perhaps it is time to return to Paris…

“George P.A. Healy: “I knew no one in France, I was utterly ignorant of the language, I did not know what I should do when once there; but I was not yet one-and-twenty, and I had a great stock of courage, of inexperience – which is sometimes a great help – and a strong desire to be my very best.”

“David McCullough, The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris

18 Comments

  1. Letizia

    It’s funny how we have plans to read all these great books and then get sidetracked by other great books. I suppose that’s the great part about loving to read, right? Always more books to read!

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  2. Gallivanta

    At least you were bold enough to make a reading programme even if you haven’t completed it. I have such a fear of not even getting to the first book that I don’t do lists 🙂 We have an exhibition at our national museum, Te Papa, at the moment,”Colour & Light: Impressionism from France & America, the first exhibition in this elegant new space, focuses on the way that artists and ideas travelled between France and the United States. The Impressionists transformed art on both sides of the Atlantic” It is an exhibition that would fit well with your reading.

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    1. Clanmother

      I agree wholeheartedly. Art and creativity simply cannot stand still – it bursts with energy that can sweep the continents and cross the oceans. By the way, I checked out Te Papa! This is the event that I would dearly love to attend!

      http://www.tepapa.govt.nz/WhatsOn/allevents/Pages/ImpressionismFloortalkEnPleinAir.aspx

      And I had to add another link! How fabulous is this!!!

      http://arts.tepapa.govt.nz/on-the-wall/colour-and-light-impressionism-from-france-and-america

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    1. Clanmother

      You are so right – there were a great deal of stories. George Healy went on to paint the portraits of notables such as Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, John Calhoun, Arnold Henry Guyot, William H. Seward, and Louis Philippe. When he painted the portrait of John Quincy Adams, he listened to John Quincy’s stories dating back to before the French Revolution when he went with his father, John Adams to meet Benjamin Franklin in Paris. Can you imagine!!! Healy also painted Ulysses Grant and Abraham Lincoln. I confess that I recognized the paintings, but I had no idea who George Healy was until I read this book. I learn something new everyday… 🙂

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      1. billgncs

        Wow — what connections, and with pivotal people in history. Someone sits with a painter more than once, so I imagine they chatted — oh to be a fly on the wall. But perhaps the book provides that function.

        Learning something new daily — certainly a recipe for a full life.

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