Historian David McCullough’s ‘The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris’

BY Anne Davenport  July 8, 2011 at 12:33 PM EDT

'The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris'

In his latest book, “The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris,” David McCullough turns his historian’s eye toward 19th century Americans as they travel to Paris and are profoundly influenced for decades to come.

The two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award recently sat down with Jeffrey Brown at a French cafe in Washington. He described why he decided to write this book and the approach he took:

“People don’t realize to what degree we are affected by the French and by French history. Here we are in a city designed by a Frenchman: We’re sitting in a French restaurant in the United States….History is more than politics and the military and social issues. Yes, it is politics and the military and social issues, but it’s also art and music and architecture and ideas and science and medicine, it’s the works, it’s human. And I think that the more we teach history that way, the more think about history that way, the more we realize that’s obviously true. “

McCullough describes below one of the most interesting characters in the book, Ambassador Elihu Washburne:

Editor’s Note: The full conversation will air soon on the PBS NewsHour.