FROM THE #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF JOHN ADAMS At the end of the last century, Johnstown, Pennsylvania was a booming coal-and-steel town filled with hardworking families striving for a piece of the nation's burgeoning industrial prosperity. In the mountains above Johnstown, an old earth dam had been hastily rebuilt to create a lake for an exclusive summer resort patronized by the tycoons of that same industrial prosperity, among them Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and Andrew Mellon. Despite repeated warnings of possible danger, nothing was done about the dam. Then came May 31, 1889, when the dam burst, sending a wall of water thundering down the mountain, smashing through Johnstown, and killing more than 2,000 people. It was a tragedy that became a national scandal. Graced by David McCullough's remarkable gift for writing richly textured, sympathetic social history, The Johnstown Flood is an absorbing portrait of life in nineteenth-century America, of overweening confidence, of energy, and of tragedy. This is a powerful historical lesson for our century and all times: the danger of assuming that because people are in positions of responsibility they are behaving responsibly.
To say that Pittsburgh native, David McCullough, has had an interesting life would be an understatement. He was born in 1933 and is of Scots-Irish descent, and one of four sons. He is self-described as having a "marvelous" childhood. McCullough was interested in many things.......sports, art, books, and history among them. He loved every day of school. He graduated from Yale University where he felt privileged to associate with their great faculty of the likes of John O'Hara, John Heresy and others. He frequently ate lunch with Thornton Wilder, who taught him that a good writer should maintain "an air of freedom" in their writing so that the actual end is never predictable, even in non-fiction.
McCullough enjoyed delving into the research and then doing the writing of a non-fiction book. He studied Art and English, ultimately receiving his degree, with honors, in English literature at Yale (1955). While there, he was a member of Skull and Bones and served valuable apprenticeship with Time, Life, the U.S. Information Agency, and American Heritage.
McCullough has received the Pulitizer Prize for his books on Truman and John Adam's. His other books include: The Path Between the Seas and Mornings on Horseback, The Johnstown Flood, The Great Bridge, Brave Companions, 1776, The Greater Journey, The Wright Brothers, The American Spirit, and his latest, The Pioneers.
McCullough has been a teacher, editor, lecturer, and familiar voice on television. He was the host of Smithsonian World, The American Experience, narrator of numerous documentaries such as Ken Burn's The Civil War. His narrative of Seabiscuit, the movie, and the Tom Hanks directed seven-part mini-series, John Adam's were very successful.
McCullough and his wife Rosalee have five children and nineteen grandchildren.......and one great-grandchild! In the words of a citation given with his honorary degree from Yale, "As an historian, he 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".