The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris by David McCullough recounts the activities and observations of Americans who went abroad to Paris in great numbers beginning in the 1830's.
Waves of young Americans who would become important in art, education, medicine, literature, music and technological innovation sought the kind of broadening experiences that were not available to them at home.
Mr. McCullough’s account of how Morse, who would become best known for his telegraph and code, painted his monumental “Gallery of the Louvre” (1831-33) is fascinating. So are the experiences of American medical students in Paris, whose educational opportunities (including free lectures at the Sorbonne) were vastly greater than anything available to them at home. In America, male doctors could not examine female patients; in France, they could learn about obstetrics. And Paris enabled Elizabeth Blackwell to go home and become the first female doctor in the United States.
That's just a taste of the many famous personalities who fill the pages of The Greater Journey. The descriptions of Parisian life and political events during the span of the 70 years covered in the book are equally entertaining and enlightening.