Pulitzer Prize-winning historian was 89 – Deadline


David McCullough, the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning historian whose biographies gave character and compelling narratives to the characters and moments that make up the fabric of the American experience, has died. He was 89 years old.

His publisher, Simon & Schuster, said McCullough died Sunday at his home in Hingman, MA, surrounded by his five children.

Two of McCullough’s most famous works, the 1992 presidential biographies of Harry Truman and 2001 John Adams, have not only won Pulitzer Prizes but have been made into TV miniseries. His gift for storytelling translated into that of a narrator of documentaries like that of Ken Burns. Civil war.

McCullough received the National Book Award for The way between the seas, on the construction of the Panama Canal, and Mornings on horseback, a biography of Theodore Roosevelt. Other bestsellers included The Johnstown Flood, The big bridge, brave companions, 1776, The big trip, The Wright Brothers, and The American Spirit. He also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush in 2006.

At the ceremony, Bush said, “For those who question the importance of history, David likes to quote Harry Truman, who said, ‘The only new thing in the world is the history you don’t know not.’ David McCullough reminds us that “the laws we respect, the freedoms we enjoy, the institutions we take for granted…are all the work of others who have gone before us”.

“A generous man who chose to believe in the best of America and Americans. May eternal light shine upon him,” author Jon Meacham wrote on Twitter following news of McCullough’s passing.

Jonathan Karp, CEO of Simon & Schuster, said in a statement: “David McCullough was a national treasure. His books have brought history to life for millions of readers. Through his biographies he dramatically illustrated the most ennobling parts of the American character. The publisher said none of its books are out of print and have sold 14 million copies across all formats.

In 1989, McCullough was one of the few private citizens to address a joint session of Congress as it celebrated its 200th anniversary.

Although he was once one of the country’s most eminent historians, the publication of Truman and John Adams over the next decade it made him a household name. His biography of Harry S Truman helped elevate the late president’s historic standing and proved to be such a cultural sensation that candidates cited the work as an example of presidential character. Truman later became an HBO miniseries starring Gary Sinise.

In the same way, John Adams brought to life a character who had often been kicked out of high school civics classes. While McCullough’s book highlighted Adams’ role as one of the most important founding fathers, it also vividly detailed his stubbornness and the night he shared a hotel room bed with Benjamin Franklin and they got together. were arguing over whether to keep a window open. This book was also adapted into an HBO miniseries starring Paul Giamatti in the title role.

McCullough’s books often reflected the positive aspects of the American experience. The big bridgeon the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, was one of his first works, published in 1972, and classified among the Modern Library’s best nonfiction books of the last century. One of his last works, The pionneersdrew criticism for failing to further examine the treatment of Native Americans by white settlers in the 19th century.

McCullough has narrated a number of other documentary projects, as well as the feature film sea ​​cookieand hosted public television shows like Smithsonian World and American experience.

Although McCullough generally stayed out of the political fray, he spoke about Donald Trump. He joined Burns in 2016 to lead historians against the then-GOP nominee. “President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who served his country so admirably throughout his career, said there were four key qualities by which we should measure a leader: character, ability, responsibility, and leadership. experience,” McCullough said, according to WGBH-TV. “Donald Trump fails to qualify on all four points.”

In the early 1990s, McCullough was among a group of scholars who protested plans by The Walt Disney Co. to build a story-based theme park, Disney’s America, in Manassas, Virginia, near Civil War battlefields. These plans were eventually scrapped.

McCullough was born July 7, 1933 in Pittsburgh to parents who shared their interest in history. He attended Yale University, majoring in English, and recalled to the Wall Street Journal that resident scholar Thornton Wilder encouraged him to write.

After graduating, he worked at Sports Illustrated and later at the United States Information Agency. A job at American Heritage led him to write historical non-fiction, publishing his first book, The Johnstown Flood, in 1968.

McCullough’s wife, Rosalee, whom he married in 1954, died in June. They had five children,


Comments are closed.