Thursday, August 4, 2011

"Greater Journey, Americans in Paris" by David McCullough

Let's see, as usual I was listening to NPR - not once, not twice, but three times David McCullough was being interviewed on various programs about his new book "Greater Journey, Americans in Paris". Typically, this interested me greatly....... I have never read anything by Mr. Mccullough before, however, the subject of this book was absolutely fascinating..... Naturally, I couldn't wait for the library to purchase and be in the hold line for this one, "hot-footed" it right down to our local bookstore (Snowgoose) and purchased it. One of the best purchases this year.

The United States has not always been the leader in medicine, as a matter of fact the place to study medicine during the 1800's was Paris, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Elizabeth Blackwell both left their homeland to study medicine in Paris, and brought back much knowledge to our country.

James Fenimore Cooper and Samuel F.B. Morse, good friends, also ventured to Paris, Cooper to further his writing and Morse to study art- he had hoped to become America's foremost artist, yet while he was there he observed something that brought forth his greatest feat - the telegraph and Morse code.

Mary Cassatt ventured to Paris with her family, and was the ONLY American to be "invited" into the impressionistic group of painters, only one of two women.

Elihu Washburne was appointed the "Minister" to Paris from America, his work helped saved countless lives during the Siege of Paris.

However, my very favorite story is that of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, American born of a French father, and Irish mother, he was born to hard working immigrants. At the age of 13 his father announced that it was time for Augustus to go to work, and he was apprentice to Louis Avet, A French cameo carver. With this work under his belt, he went to Paris at the age of 19 to begin a new life in "carving", he turned his talents to sculpture. The piece that has most intrigued me from his story is the "Sherman Monument (with Victory)" it stands at the entrance to Central Park at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue in New York City. I would love to go to NYC just to see this piece of work. There is a color photo in the book of this monument - General Sherman "sat" for Augustus several times for a bust, so the face is highly accurate.

Please consider this book. It reads like a novel, the people are fascinating, and all the history one will learn.


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