Jonathan Karp Remembers David McCullough

Dear Colleagues,

It is with great sadness that I write to let you know that David McCullough died on Sunday, August 7, surrounded by his family, at home in Hingham, Massachusetts. He was 89.

Simon & Schuster has been honored to be David’s publisher for 54 years, a relationship that has deepened and prospered since we published his first book, THE JOHNSTOWN FLOOD, in 1968, through his most recent work, THE PIONEERS, in 2019. Along the way, David won two Pulitzer Prizes, two National Book Awards, two Francis Parkman Prizes, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, our nation’s highest civilian honor, as well as numerous other honors and accolades. None of his books have gone out of print, and his works, which have sold more than 14 million copies across all formats, have been published in 19 languages.

David McCullough was 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.

David was greatly admired and beloved throughout our company, and we will cherish his work for as long as we are publishing books. Within Simon & Schuster there was always palpable excitement whenever a new book from David was on the horizon, because we knew we were on the verge of a publishing event, eagerly anticipated by bookseller, reader, and media alike.

David was also one of the few authors of our time who had a public profile that reached beyond the world of books and publishing. He served as host of “Smithsonian World” and “The American Experience,” and in his distinctive and unforgettable voice narrated documentaries and films including Ken Burns’ “The Civil War” and “Seabiscuit.”

David was predeceased in June by his beloved wife Rosalee, whom he variously credited as his “editor-in-chief, mission control, and chair of the ethics commission.”

I will miss him greatly, but we can all be grateful for the privilege and honor of being David McCullough’s publisher these many years, and for our role in bringing his work to millions of readers. This fall, we’ll be republishing a new hardcover edition of BRAVE COMPANIONS, which reminded me yet again of David’s artistry as a writer and his gift for illustrating what he called “The American Spirit.”

Please join me in offering condolences to David’s children and extended family.