The American Spirit by David McCullough
Who We Are and What We Stand For


6 Critic Reviews

His faith in the country is touching, and this book is a gift (and not just a last-minute one for your nephew, either).


A New York Times Bestseller

A timely collection of speeches by David McCullough, the most honored historian in the United States—winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, two National Book Awards, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among many others—that reminds us of fundamental American principles.

Over the course of his distinguished career, David McCullough has spoken before Congress, the White House, colleges and universities, historical societies, and other esteemed institutions. Now, at a time of self-reflection in America following a bitter election campaign that has left the country divided, McCullough has collected some of his most important speeches in a brief volume designed to identify important principles and characteristics that are particularly American. The American Spirit reminds us of core American values to which we all subscribe, regardless of which region we live in, which political party we identify with, or our ethnic background. This is a book about America for all Americans that reminds us who we are and helps to guide us as we find our way forward.

About David McCullough

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David McCullough has been widely acclaimed as a “master of the art of narrative history” and “a matchless writer.” He is twice winner of the Pulitzer Prize, twice winner of the National Book Award, and has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award.Mr. McCullough’s most recent book, The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris, the #1 New York Times bestseller, has been called “dazzling,” “an epic of ideas…history to be savored.” His previous work, 1776, has been acclaimed “a classic,” while John Adams, published in 2001, remains one of the most praised and widely read American biographies of all time. More than three million copies are in print and it is presently in its eighty-second printing.In the words of the citation accompanying 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.”Mr. McCullough’s other books include The Johnstown Flood, The Great Bridge, The Path between the Seas, Mornings on Horseback, Brave Companions, and Truman. His work has been published in ten languages and, in all, more than 9,500,000 copies are in print. As may be said of few writers, none of his books has ever been out of print.Mr. McCullough is also twice winner of the prestigious Francis Parkman Prize, and for his work overall, he has been honored by the National Book Foundation Distinguished Contribution to American Letters Award and the National Humanities Medal. He has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as the American Academy of Arts and Letters and has received forty-seven honorary degrees.In a crowded, productive career, he has been an editor, essayist, teacher, lecturer, and familiar presence on public television—as host of Smithsonian World, The American Experience, and narrator of numerous documentaries, including Ken Burns’s The Civil War. His is also the narrator’s voice in the movie Seabiscuit.John Adams, the seven-part mini-series on HBO, produced by Tom Hanks and starring Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney, was one of the most acclaimed and talked about television events of recent years.A gifted speaker, Mr. McCullough has lectured in all parts of the country and abroad, as well as at the White House. He is also one of the few private citizens to speak before a joint session of Congress.Born in Pittsburgh in 1933, Mr. McCullough was educated there and at Yale, where he graduated with honors in English literature. He is an avid reader and traveler, and has enjoyed a lifelong interest in art and architecture. He is a devoted painter as well. Mr. McCullough and his wife, Rosalee Barnes McCullough, have five children and eighteen grandchildren.
Published April 18, 2017 by Simon & Schuster. 192 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
Peak Rank on May 28 2017
Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for The American Spirit
All: 6 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 2


Above average
on Mar 20 2017

McCullough is relentlessly his account of the long friendship between France and the United States, he does not mention the Iraq War, “freedom fries,” etc. But, as Emily Dickinson wrote, “hope is the thing with feathers,” and it is that bird that swoops through all.

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Reviewed by Michael Schaub on Apr 22 2017

His faith in the country is touching, and this book is a gift (and not just a last-minute one for your nephew, either).

Read Full Review of The American Spirit: Who We A... | See more reviews from NPR

Christian Science Monitor

Reviewed by Danny Heitman on Apr 24 2017

Happily, the same qualities that inform McCullough’s histories and biographies also shape his speeches. He is, whether at his desk or a lectern, a consummate storyteller...

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Washington Independent Review of Books

Above average
Reviewed by David Bruce Smith on Apr 24 2017

McCullough’s new book, The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For, is a compendium of 15 speeches delivered at college and university graduations, to Congress, and at the White House between 1989 and 2016.

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My San Antonio

Reviewed by Joe Smydo on May 31 2017

It is often said that a speaker should know his audience. By the time readers finish “The American Spirit,” they should know McCullough.

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Reviewed by Donna Seaman on Apr 01 2017

Very few among us possess the encompassing and informed perspective on America’s past and present that historian and best-selling author McCullough has gained over decades of research.

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