David Gaub McCullough (1933- )

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Writer, journalist, historian, television host

American writer, journalist, historian, and television host, David Gaub McCullough was born on 7 July 1933 to Christian Hax McCullough, a businessman, and Ruth (Rankin) McCullough. A Modern Literature graduate of Yale University, McCullough moved to New York on receipt of his BA and took a job with Sports Illustrated. He also worked freelance for Time magazine and Architectural Forum. In 1961, he accepted a job with the United States Information Agency in Washington, DC, where he discovered his penchant for historical writing.

In 1964, McCullough moved back to new York to work for the American heritage Publishing Company. He became editor-in-chief for the American Heritage Picture History of World War Two (1966), a series of books he has described as his "greatest accomplishment". He also edited the six volume set entitled The Smithsonian Library (1968-70).

McCullough's first independently-researched book entitled The Johnstown Flood was well-received by critics in 1968. The New York Times called it "a superb job, scholarly yet vivid, balanced yet incisive." His next book however,The Brooklyn Bridge, received thunderous critical applause and also won several prizes for excellence and literary merit. The Saturday Review opined that McCullough had produced "an engrossing piece of social history, a latitudinal view of the politics and business practises and daily life of the two or three decades after the ending of the Civil War." McCullough's third book,The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914, (1977) won several awards including the US National Book Award for History and the prestigious Francis Parkman Award from the Society of American Historians.

While researching his Panama Canal book, McCullough became intrigued with the personal life of Theodore Roosevelt, one of the key players in the building of the canal. Out of that fascination came McCullough's fourth book, Mornings on Horseback (1981), a biographical study of Roosevelt's early childhood, adolescence and early manhood. It, too, like its predecessors, was well-received and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. His next book was also a political biography, detailing the life and times of President Harry Truman. Truman (1993) won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography in 1993.

While researching and writing Truman in 1983, McCullough was invited by the Smithsonian Institute to host a new TV series which he accepted. It led to his next hosting job with PBS in 1988 as the popular host of The American Experience. He also narrated The Civil War, an Emmy-award winning documentary series on PBS by Ken Burns, first broadcast in 1990.

The white-haired, blue-eyed McCullough bears a striking resemblance to Walter Cronkite. He has been described by Esther B. Fein as ža tall and elegant man, funny and charmingly politež and by another writer as having "a ready smile and a relaxed and casual affability that somehow co-exist with an aura of intensity and concentrated awareness."

McCullough currently serves as a senior contributing editor to American Heritage magazine and is president of the Society of American Historians. David McCullough believes deeply in the utility of history in modern society. He once said:
"History, while no index to the future, helps us better understand our human nature. Politicians and great cataclysms like war are only part of it. History is, and should be seen as all subjects - politics, war, art, science, industry, economics, engineering, literature, show business, and little towns you have never heard of. And the great pull of it all is people. Stir around in the supposedly dead past and you always find life."
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