Title

Voila, Les Americains Sont Arrives a Paris

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date

2-17-2014

Abstract

Much like Chaucer’s Prologue, most of the Dramatis Personae in historian David McCullough’s book, The Greater Journey (Simon & Schuster, 2011), are introduced in the first chapter. In subsequent chapters the characters are introduced in chronological order, starting with 1830 and going through 1900. These dates serve as bookends between which McCullough creates, much like a museum curator’s arrangement of art works in a museum, a rich tableaux about a host of Americans who sojourned to Paris in the 19th centurysit. In museums, art works are typically exhibited by period style or thematically, and each work stands on its own and converses with the viewer in a personal aesthetic dialogue. McCullough’s greatest accomplishment is his ability to zero in on a host of important American figures who made a beeline to Paris. If one were to imagine each of the dramatis personae as an independent art work in the socio-politico-cultural expat milieu/museum of American life during 19th century Paris, then the characters are cast in a beehive of myriad pursuits.

Publication Title

CounterPunch