Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Great Journey by David McCullough

So I'm absolutely plowing through my books for the summer. This was another recommended both by NPR and by The NY Times.

In this masterpiece and monster of a book, historian (and Pulitzer Prize winning author) David McCullough (who wrote about John Adams the last time around) writes about the American expatriate community that lived in and around Paris during the 19th century - he focuses on the ENTIRE century, not just a small portion of it.  He chose this era to focus on because these expats inspired the expats of the 1920's and 30's in their journeys in and around Paris. In writing about this time period, McCullough looks at such figures as Samuel Morse, George Healy, Charles Sumner, Mary Cassatt, James Fenimore Cooper and Oliver Wendell Holmes.

This book was intriguing. It took me a relatively long time to complete the book - about 5 or 6 days (which is a long time for me) - but it didn't feel that long.  I attribute this in part to how wonderfully written the book was.  McCullough did extensive research in writing this book and looked at diaries, journals, letters and other primary sources of his subjects in learning about that time period. He also quoted extensively from those items.  It made me really feel like I was in Paris during that time period and actually inspired me to continue with my paper journalling (and maybe find a pen pal or two or three to write letters to!).

This was a wonderful book that you should hurry to read right away!

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