2012 David McCullough, Historian
For a good many people in this country, David McCullough is not only the penman but also the voice of American history. His eleven years hosting PBS’s "American Experience" and his narrating a long list of historical documentaries, including several by Ken Burns, made him and his preferred subject a familiar part of many Americans' lives. But his books have absorbed his attention over several decades and constitute a substantive achievement of enduring significance. From the The Johnstown Flood (1968) through The Great Bridge (1972), The Path Between the Seas (1977), Mornings on Horseback (1981), on the young Theodore Roosevelt (1981), his acclaimed biographies of Truman and John Adams (1992 and 2001), his detailed exploration of 1776 (2005), In the Dark Streets Shineth (2010), on the days of December 1941 when the United States entered World War II, and The Greater Journey, about Americans in nineteenth-century Paris (2011), he has moved expertly through the centuries of our history, following Americans to places far from their homeland. His research is thorough, his writing hand steady; and he has successfully told the stories of times past both to dedicated readers of history and to others who might never otherwise have ventured there. Mr. McCullough, who has won two Pulitzer Prizes, two National Book Awards, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, is a former president of the Society of American Historians.
Photo by Brett Weinstein, CC BY-SA 2.5