David McCullough death: Author and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner dies aged 89

David McCullough (AFP via Getty Images)
David McCullough (AFP via Getty Images)

Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough has died. He was 89.

The American author, known for his best-selling historical novels, died at his Hingham, Massachusetts home on Sunday (7 August).

His death was confirmed to The New York Times by his daughter Dorie Lawson.

It was McCullough’s two presidential biographies, Truman (1992) and John Adams (2001), which earned him Pulitzer Prizes.

His 1992 book topped the New York Times Best-Seller list for 43 weeks, while his 2001 book landed at No 1 in its first week. They were eventually turned into HBO television adaptations.

Additionally, he received National Book Awards for The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal (1997) and Mornings on Horseback (1981), with the latter telling the story of the young Theodore Roosevelt and his family.

Still, McCullough’s work went beyond the pages. He narrated the 1990 award-winning Ken Burns series The Civil War. His voice also featured in the 2003 film Seabiscuit, interrupting the narrative to further explain historical context.

Former US President George W Bush and David McCullough (AFP via Getty Images)
Former US President George W Bush and David McCullough (AFP via Getty Images)

From 1988 to 1999, he hosted the public television series American Experience and the television magazine Smithsonian World.

In 2006, McCullough was honoured with the Presidential Medal of Freedom from US President George W Bush.

Speaking at the ceremony, Bush said: “For those who question the importance of history, David likes to quote Harry Truman, who said, ‘The only thing new in the world is the history you do not know.’ David McCullough reminds us that ‘The laws we live by, the freedoms we enjoy, the institutions that we take for granted… are all the work of other people who went before us.’”

McCullough is survived by his five children, Dorie, Melissa McDonald, David Jr, William, and Geoffrey; his brother George; 19 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. His wife, Rosalee, died in June at the age of 89.