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 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-Exupéry 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.
About the Author
David McCullough has twice received the Pulitzer Prize, for Truman and John Adams, and twice received the National Book Award, for The Path Between the Seas and Mornings on Horseback. His other acclaimed books include The Johnstown Flood, TheGreat Bridge, Brave Companions, 1776, The Greater Journey, The American Spirit, and The Wright Brothers. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. Visit DavidMcCullough.com.
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.