Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Greater Journey

After finishing The Greater Journey by David McCullough, I feel like I've fulfilled the quota of self-improving, educational books for the summer. Now I can spend August rereading Twilight over and over. (Kidding!) I'm not going to lie- getting through this book was a slog at times-- especially during the middle section that endlessly detailed life in Paris during the Franco Prussian War-- but there were some really interesting parts that made it all worthwhile.

I haven't read any of McCullough's other historical biographies, but I decided to pick this one up because it's about Americans in Paris. Not my favorite 20's-era Paris, though. Spanning the second half of the nineteenth century, this is more Degas and Cassatt than Picasso and Hemingway. The book covers a huge range of Americans who made the trip over there for work or for artistic pursuits. Although I probably picked up a fact or two about a few of them, what I really came away with was a general sense of a particular time and place. It reminded me a little of the scene in Midnight in Paris where Marion Cotillard's character talks about how for the French in the 1920's, the Paris of the Belle Epoch was what they looked back on as their Golden Age. This book made it a little easier to imagine how that could be true.

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