Many books have been written about Americans in Paris in the 20th century, but David McCullough turns his analytical eye on previous generations of Americans who traveled to and lived in Paris in the 19th Century. Starting in the 1830's and ending in 1901, The Greater Journey covers diverse compilation of Americans who called Paris home. The first group includes Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., James Fennimore Cooper, Charles Sumner, Samuel Morse and Elizabeth Blackwell and the later group contained Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthrone, John Singer Sargent, the sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and as well as US Ambassador Elihu Washburne.
The reader also gets a history of 19th century France from King Louis-Philippe to Napoleon III and from the impressive designs of Baron Haussmann to the construction of the Eiffel Tower. Through time Americans in Paris seem remarkably like they are today as they continue to fall under the city's spell.