David McCullough, an award-winning author, narrator, historian and television host, died on Sunday at his Hingham, Mass. home. He was 89.
His daughter, Dorie Lawson, confirmed the news to the New York Times.
McCullough was best known for “Truman” and “John Adams,” two presidential biographies that notched him two Pulitzer Prizes in a 10-year span. He also won the National Book Award twice for “The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal” in 1977 and “Mornings on Horseback” in 1981, the latter which centered on a young Theodore Roosevelt and his family. In late 2006, he was awarded with the highest civilian award in the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, for his literary works in chronicling the histories of some of the nation’s most prominent political figures.
As an author, McCullough was known to take extreme care and time with his literary works. “John Adams” took about seven years to write, while “Truman” took closer to 10 to complete. His work ethic earned him the reputation of a literary master in criticism circles for being able to weave narrative drama into historical events through exhaustive research, interviewing and inclusion of eyewitness accounts in his works.
In addition to writing book, McCullough kept busy in other avenues, serving as an editor, essayist, teacher and lecturer. He hosted shows on public television including “Smithsonian World,” “The American Experience” and narrated documentaries like “The Civil War.” One of his most notable voice roles was serving as The Narrator in the 2003 best picture nominee “Seabiscuit,” about the real life thoroughbred race horse, starring Tobey Maguire and Jeff Bridges.
HBO turned McCullough’s two Pulitzer Prize-winning works in televised programs: “Truman” was adapted as 1995 TV film starring Gary Sinise as the country’s 33rd president and “John Adams” was a seven-part miniseries starring Paul Giamatti as the nation’s second president that premiered in 2008.