David McCullough will speak about his book The Greater Journey Americans in Paris at The Amon Carter Museum of American Art on July 18. His recent novel details the experiences of 19th century Americans, such as James Fenimore Cooper and Samuel Morse, who traveled to Paris. It is offered in conjunction with the museum’s exhibition Samuel F. B. Morse’s Gallery of the Louvre and the Art of Invention. Morse, who invented the telegraph and Morse code, is just one of the many historical figures featured in The Greater Journey.
France was an ally of early America, and the cultural connection remains. In the 1800’s Paris was seen as the land of opportunity for science and the arts, and it served as a cultural enlightenment for America, according to McCullough.
McCullough is a two-time Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner. His 10th book, The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris, published in 2011, is a New York Times best seller. In 2006 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. McCullough is an author, editor, lecturer, teacher and a familiar presence on public television. His books have been translated and published in 15 countries and have never been out of print. His previous work, 1776 (2005) is considered a classic, and John Adams (2001) remains one of the most widely read American biographies of all time.
The program will be held across the street from the museum in the W. E. Scott Theatre at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center located at 1300 Gendy Street. Registration for this program has closed.
Fort Worth Business’ Will Bruner spoke with McCullough about his talk:
McCullough and Texas History
McCullough has never written a book about Texas, but he admits he loves the Texan culture.
“I first visited Texas when I was 16, and it never quite left my heart,” said McCullough. For McCullough, Texas is synonymous with optimism. You may be down today, but not tomorrow.
“I saw a Yale classmate at a party in Texas, and I asked him how he was doing. He swiftly replied, ‘Well I’m broke,’ There was no self-pity,” said McCullough with a laugh.
McCullough seriously considered writing a book about Texas, but the scope was too big and he didn’t know where to start. He contemplated a book about Texas women, but he felt that a female novelist would be better suited to tackle such a subject.
History and Academia
McCullough also expressed some worry about the state of history on college campuses.
“Eighty percent of colleges do not require a history credit, which is a big mistake, said McCullough. “History teaches us that nothing is accomplished alone, something our Congress doesn’t seem to understand.
“The idea of teaching history to pass a test is wrong, you should teach to love history because it is humanity, it is not just politics and war,” McCullough said. He believes students should read books to learn to enjoy history. Even fiction can be educational about history, according to McCullough.