David McCullough, 1933-2022

NEW YORK, August 8 —It is with great sorrow that Simon & Schuster shares the news that David McCullough died yesterday, Sunday, August 7, surrounded by his five children in Hingham, MA. The author of twelve books, McCullough was acclaimed as a “master of the art of narrative history,” and awarded the Pulitzer Prize twice, the National Book Award twice, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. His wife, Rosalee, died two months ago. They had five children, nineteen grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. He was 89.

Jonathan Karp, President and Chief Executive Officer of Simon & Schuster, says, “David McCullough was a national treasure. His books brought history to life for millions of readers. Through his biographies, he dramatically illustrated the most ennobling parts of the American character. Simon & Schuster has been honored to be David’s publisher for 54 years. He was greatly admired and beloved throughout our company. We will cherish his work for as long as we are publishing books.”

Mr. McCullough’s books include The Johnstown Flood (1968), The Great Bridge (1972), The Path between the Seas (1977), Mornings on Horseback (1981), Brave Companions (1991), Truman (1992), John Adams (2001), 1776 (2005), The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris (2011), The Wright Brothers (2015), The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For (2017), and The Pioneers (2019). John Adams remains one of the most praised and widely read American biographies of all time. His books have been published in 19 languages. As may be said of few writers, none of his books has ever been out of print, and together have sold over 14 million copies across all formats.

David McCullough also won the Francis Parkman Prize twice, and for his work overall, he was honored with the National Book Foundation Distinguished Contribution to American Letters Award, the National Humanities Medal and the Gold Medal for Biography given by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and received 56 honorary degrees.

In the words of the citation accompanying his honorary degree from Yale University, his alma mater, “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.” McCullough in fact enjoyed a lifelong interest in art and architecture, and was a devoted painter.

In 2013, the city of Pittsburgh, where he was born in 1933, renamed its landmark 16th Street Bridge over the Allegheny River the David McCullough Bridge in his honor. In September 2014, he was named an Officer of the Legion of Honor by decree of the President of the Republic of France. He was one of the few private citizens to speak before a joint session of Congress.

In a crowded, productive career, McCullough was an editor, 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. Additionally, he narrated the film Seabiscuit and many of his audiobooks. John Adams, the seven-part mini-series on HBO produced by Tom Hanks, was one of the most acclaimed television events of recent years.


Simon & Schuster, a Paramount Company, is a global leader in general interest publishing, dedicated to providing the best in fiction and nonfiction for readers of all ages, and in all printed, digital and audio formats. Its distinguished roster of authors includes many of the world’s most popular and widely recognized writers, and winners of the most prestigious literary honors and awards. It is home to numerous well-known imprints and divisions such as Simon & Schuster, Scribner, Atria Books, Gallery Books, Adams Media, Avid Reader Press, Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing and Simon & Schuster Audio and international companies in Australia, Canada, India and the United Kingdom, and proudly brings the works of its authors to readers in more than 200 countries and territories. For more information visit our website at www.simonandschuster.com.

Julia Prosser, VP, Director of Publicity, julia.prosser@simonandschuster.com