Book Reviews

Book review: The Greater Journey (Americans in Paris).

The author has created an engaging and informative book about 19th century Paris, and American artists, and doctors who decided to stay in the “City of Lights” for prolonged periods, in an attempt to learn from highly acclaimed painters, sculpturists, and medical professionals.

At the time (1830 – 1890), Pairs was the centre of creative arts and medicine, as it is for fashion today, more advanced than the U.S.A.

The voyage from the east coast U.S.A was itself an adventure that took several days and could be fraught with all kinds of stormy seas and other hazards.

Once arrived in Le Havre, it took at least another two days by coach to reach Paris. Some decided to stay midway, and overnight in Rouen to admire the ornate cathedral of the city which was more imposing and appealing than any church in the entire U.S.A.

David Mc Cullough undertook considerable research to unearth details about American writers and artists hitherto unknown, which itself makes worth reading this voluminous book.

It is well illustrated with colour and black and white phonographs. The details of the American ambassador to France handling the affairs during the Franco-Prussian are revealing.

Practically, any American painter and writer conspiring to perfect hiséher craft is portrayed, and occasionally a few get overexposed.

This in itself is not bad, but could have been omitted to render the book more concise.

David Mc Cullough loves Paris, and spent considerable time in the city to study many of the sites, including the Eiffel Tower, which at the time was the tallest man made structure in the world.

A highly interesting and illuminating book about Paris, and American doctors of the time deserves the attention of anyone curious about 19th century American and French relations.

The chapter on reinventing and laying out a new Paris by Hausmann and the French government of the time is detailed enough make this book outstanding.

The Greater Journey Paris

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