He is certainly one of the great writers of our time. Truman (Simon & Schuster, 1992) is a terrific and comprehensive biography of America’s favorite autocratic president. The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris (Simon & Schuster, 2011) makes you want to book a flight and get in a time machine to travel backwards.
There have been plenty of books about the Wright Brothers, and their escapades with the flying machine. But, something tells me that in McCullough’s book, we will experience that familiar story in a way that no one else has provided it.
McCullough is a two-time Pulitzer prize winner. He also wrote books about John Adams and Albert Einstein. He weaves details in a storybook fashion that few writers can copy. I found this positive quote about him on the web site for the National Endowment for the Humanities, of which he was a 2003 Jefferson lecturer: “David McCullough throws himself into the research of his subjects, tracing the roads they traveled, reading the books they read, and seeing the homes they lived in. His diligence pays off in detailed and engaging narratives.”
We are just under two months away from its release, and his new book is already # 1 on the Amazon.com best-selling list in scientists, aerospace, and history. Overall, it is # 303 in book sales – two months away!
And, just for credibility, my order for the book is in the queue.
We may see this book at the First Friday Book Synopsis. That all depends upon how “businessy” the book turns out to be.
In the meantime, May 15 cannot come soon enough.
Here you go – this is my list of the Best of 2011 in a number of categories.
Best Business Book: The 3rd Alternative by Stephen Covey (New York: Free Press) – this book explains and promotes a tired “win-win” philosophy in a fresh way, opening up applications in multiple contexts for many people who give lip service to the concept likely have never thought of before. It didn’t stay on the best-seller lists long enough.
Best Non-Fiction Book: The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris by David McCullough (New York: Simon & Schuster) – I didn’t think he could ever top the biography he wrote called Truman, but this is a highly readable, novel-like approach of an important segment of American history, as played out overseas.
A close second: Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero by Chris Matthews (New York: Simon & Schuster) – I’ve read a lot of books about JFK, and many a lot longer than this one, but I have never learned so much as I did with this account. Lots of inside information from an outside perspective by this MSNBC giant.
Best Fiction Book: 11-22-63 by Stephen King (New York: Scribner) – A fantasy about a high school teacher who travels back in time, attempting to change history, with the first stop in 1958. Quite a story! The picture of the author on the inside cover makes him look so intense!
Best Movie: Shame starring Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan. directed by Steve McQueen (Fox Searchlight films) – this is not entertaining, and a very difficult movie to watch, but it demonstrates the challenges that 3-5 million Americans with sex addictions face better than any documentary ever has or could.
Best Sporting News: Paterno and Penn State Fall – this is not a happy story, but time unravels strange tales, and a giant in a successful program faces the music, and we cannot ignore it; at the Ticket City Bowl on Monday, I saw two t-shirts: one said, “Joe Knows Football,” and another, “What Does Joe Know?” Unfortunately, with his diminishing physical condition, we may never find out.
Best Entertainer: Taylor Swift – a 22-year old captivates audiences and the music world with original songs from the heart, and she bonds with her listeners of all ages at concerts in ways that we have not seen since the Beatles; the song Story of Us will resonate with many people who have had heartbreaking relationships
Best Television Program: Friday Night Lights – when its final episode aired this spring, I realized how good it was, and how much I will miss it; if you never saw it, purchase the series on DVD’s.
Best News Story: Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami in May – riveting images of horror and sorrow followed by amazing stories of international and personal help and relief show the greatest contrast in bad and good that you could ask to see, and there still remains a lot of work to do.
What do you think? Let’s talk about it.
Obviously, I read a lot of business books, but I also enjoy other types as well. I read novels from Stuart Woods, Catherine Coulter, Harlen Cohen, John Sanford, and I really miss Robert B. Parker, who passed away last year.
I like non-fiction also. A great best-seller that is now available is by David McCullough, The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris (Simon and Schuster, 2011). McCullough is the authorized biographer for Harry Truman, and that book was cryptically called Truman. He also wrote 1776, featuring great stories of our country’s founders. His books have obviously focused on events in the Western Hemisphere, so this one is a departure from what we are familiar with from his writing.
The Greater Journey is about Americans who traveled to Paris between 1830 and the early 1900’s. Obviously, they went by sea, and the book chronicles the fascination that several Americans had with the Parisian arts, dining, and other aspects of its culture. Among the characters in the book are famous names such as Samuel Morse, Charles Sumner, George Healy, and Nathaniel Hawthorne.
One thing to keep in perspective as you read this book is that comparing America to Paris in this time period is like comparing apples and oranges. As a nation, America was only 54-125 years old. We were an infant compared to the much longer heritage and history that Paris offered these people. Of course, almost every aspect of culture and civilization that these Americans experienced was better in Paris. That is only because Paris had much more time to develop them.
I particularly enjoyed these Americans’ fascination with Parisian food, art, and culture. Of course, most of these people that McCullough chronicles in the book had the money and resources to go first-class.
And, you could still do that today if you went to Paris. If you don’t want to do that, this book is a great way to experience the culture from a previous era. Remember that many of the items that McCullough includes are still open and active in Paris today – the most famous being the Louvre museum.
What do you think? Let’s talk about it!