Presented by James F. Callahan, Jr. ’65, Trustee
A writer of acclaimed, best-selling histories and distinctive narrator for television and film, David McCullough is a two-time winner of both the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize who has been called a “master of the art of narrative history.” His books, including his latest, 1776 (Simon & Schuster, 2005) are praised for their rigorous scholarship, insight into American life and literary merit. McCullough’s ability to infuse accounts of the American past with a writer’s enthusiasm for storytelling has made him “the people’s historian,” according to The New York Times. He once told a reporter about “the accelerative quality of curiosity” and he writes: “[T]he more you find out, the more you want to find out and that’s a great time … boy, it’s wonderful!”
The citation for his 1998 honorary degree from Yale, where he earned his B.A. in 1955, notes that McCullough “paints with words, giving us pictures of the American people that live, breathe and, above all, confront the fundamental issues of courage, achievement and moral character.” His seven other books, none of which has ever been out of print, are The Johnstown Flood, The Great Bridge, The Path between the Seas, Mornings on Horseback, Brave Companions, Truman and John Adams, the latter two receiving Pulitzer Prizes, in 1993 and 2002, respectively. McCullough is twice winner of the prestigious Francis Parkman Prize. He has been honored with the National Book Foundation Distinguished Contribution to American Letters Award, the National Humanities Medal and the New York Public Library’s Literary Lion Award. He is past president of the Society of American Historians, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is an avid landscape painter.
As host of The American Experience and as narrator of numerous documentaries, such as The Civil War, and of the movie Seabiscuit, he employs a voice The New York Times calls “three parts honey, two parts gravitas . . . It is the voice of God, only friendlier.” McCullough will receive the hononary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.