This book is an appropriate choice for my pick of the decade as it has been a favorite of mine for much longer than that. It's a wonderful collection of essays about historical figures, some famous and some not, related in McCullough's well loved style, which is to say informative without being preachy. Not as daunting in size as some of his other works, this gem of a book does not need to be read in any particular order but can be, to borrow a word from the title, a dependable reading companion for any reader at any time.
— From Brave Companions
From Alexander von Humboldt to Charles and Anne Lindbergh, these are stories of people of great vision and daring whose achievements continue to inspire us today, brilliantly told by master historian David McCullough.
The bestselling author of Truman
and John Adams,
David McCullough has written profiles of exceptional men and women past and present who have not only shaped the course of history or changed how we see the world but whose stories express much that is timeless about the human condition.
Here are Alexander von Humboldt, whose epic explorations of South America surpassed the Lewis and Clark expedition; Harriet Beecher Stowe, "the little woman who made the big war"; Frederic Remington; the extraordinary Louis Agassiz of Harvard; Charles and Anne Lindbergh, and their fellow long-distance pilots Antoine de Saint-Exup ry and Beryl Markham; Harry Caudill, the Kentucky lawyer who awakened the nation to the tragedy of Appalachia; and David Plowden, a present-day photographer of vanishing America.
Different as they are from each other, McCullough's subjects have in common a rare vitality and sense of purpose. These are brave companions: to each other, to David McCullough, and to the reader, for with rare storytelling ability McCullough brings us into the times they knew and their very uncommon lives.
Cleveland Plain Dealer
If you enjoy good stories well told about interesting people and places, you should read this book. You will learn something about history -- and also about good historical writing.
The New York Times Book Review
McCullough's portrayals...are models of compression, perspective, and the discriminating use of detail, and of what the author calls "the possibilities for self-expression in writing narrative history."
Dallas Morning News
It will come as no surprise to the reader to learn that Mr. McCullough's first ambition was to be a portrait painter. He has supplied us with admirable portraits....All his subjects come alive.