Truman Biographer to Deliver Commencement Address at Hamilton College
McCullough, author of six widely acclaimed books, including the Pulitzer Prize- winning biography, Truman, was born in Pittsburgh in 1933. In 1955, he graduated from Yale University with honors in English literature, and within a year began working in New York at Sports Illustrated. During the Kennedy Administration, McCullough served as an editor on a magazine published by the U.S. Information Agency, and later worked as an editor for American Heritage magazine.
McCullough published his first book, The Johnstown Flood, in 1968. His next book, The Great Bridge, a story of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, was published in 1972 to thunderous critical applause. It also won several prizes, including a special citation for excellence from the Society of American Historians. The Path Between the Seas, an epic chronicle of the creation of the Panama Canal, was published in 1977 and received several awards including the National Book Award for history.
While researching and writing The Path Between the Seas, McCullough became deeply interested in Theodore Roosevelt, one of the key figures in the story. Out of that fascination came Mornings on Horseback in 1981, his biographical study of Roosevelt's childhood, adolescence and early manhood, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Subsequently, in 1992 he published Brave Companions, a book of essays on heroic figures past and present.
His monumental Truman, a work of 10 years, has been called a "masterpiece of American biography." An unprecedented national bestseller, the book has sold over a million copies to date. The recently released film Truman, starring Anthony Hopkins, was also based on McCullough's biography.
Since 1989, McCullough has hosted the PBS television show, The American Experience. Previously, he hosted Smithsonian World and narrated the Emmy Award-winning documentary series, The Civil War, in 1990.
He is twice winner of the National Book Award and the prestigious Frances Parkman Prize. Most recently, McCullough was honored with the Charles Frankel Prize in a ceremony at the White House. President Clinton praised his "remarkable body of work" as well as his efforts toward preservation of historic sites.
The president of the Society of American Historians and a founding member of Protect Historic America, McCullough's other awards include the Pennsylvania Governor's Award for Excellence in the Humanities, the Harry S. Truman Award for Public Service and a Guggenheim fellowship. In November 1995, he was awarded the National Book Foundation's Distinguished Contribution to America Letters Award for his lifetime of work.
A gifted and popular speaker, he has lectured in all parts of the world, as well as at the White House as part of the White House Presidential Lecture Series. He is also one of the few private citizens ever invited to speak before a joint session of Congress, at the time of the bicentennial.
During the commencement ceremony, McCullough will receive an honorary degree from Hamilton College. He holds 17 other honorary degrees and has taught at Cornell University, Dartmouth College and the Wesleyan University Writers Conference.
Currently, McCullough is working on a book about Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. An avid traveler, reader and painter, he lives in West Tisbury, Mass., with his wife, Rosalee Barnes McCullough. They have five children and eight grandchildren.