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 best-selling 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.
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The Voice of American History
Any book written by Mr. McCullough would rank high on my list of books, but another unabridged edition read in its entirety by him ranks in top of my list. The book is a collection of shorter essays and stories about many of the figures that feature in some of his larger works but beyond that it is the story of many prominent figures in our American Story that many of us as the author states probably know little to nothing about.
McCullough's ability to bring to life the vivid story of each of his Companion's lives in stunning detail. You feel that you are sitting right next to many of them (in fact in some of the contemporary figures you are!) as he shares their lives and accomplishments. The telling of the adventures of Alexander von Humboldt and the biography of Frederic Remington would have to be two of my favorite chapters.
His voice! Dating back over 25 years when I first heard his narration of the the Ken Burns Civil War series I have absolutely been captivated by his voice. To me he could read a Calculus textbook and I would be enthralled. He is in my mind the voice of American History. He is able to transform his words into a warm, heartfelt and captivating story all the while keeping you invested. In invite you to close your eyes and see the subject through his eyes, his words and his voice. You can hear the absolute admiration for his subjects, the fascination of not just their accomplishment but their extraordinary or even sometimes ordinary lives. I hope that he will continue to narrate more of his past work.
The Chapter called "Recommended Itinerary" which is a copy of an commencement speech given to a college in the middle 1980's. In it he encourage these young minds to explore not only their world but more importantly to appreciate the United States that they live in to appreciate the extraordinary historical times we are living in. Though over 30 years old I think the message he is trying to convey still holds significance.
This book was originally published in 1991 and it clearly a telling of origin of many of his early and later works on Roosevelt, Truman, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Panama Canal. Mr McCullough takes you with him as in insider into his research of this individuals that became the subject for his later award winning books but as previously states he brings to light many subject who might have been simply footnotes in your High School History Texts but should be considered chapters to themselves for their amazing contribution to our American Story. I cannot recommend this book enough not only for his wonderful voice but also for his story telling ability.
- Bradley W.
A most profound novel! I don't think I have ever enjoyed any book in my almost 80 years of life!