The American Spirit

By David McCullough

David McCullough turns back the pages of history to display "who we are and what we stand for" as the American people. This collection of essays, delivered over a twenty-five-year period, is a rich testimony to the words of George Washington, "Perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages." 

McCullough reacquaints the reader with giants of the past — some well known, some forgotten. These pages are insight mixed with inspiration and application with hope that our country appreciates our past, learns from our past, and moves toward a better future. 

Read or listen slowly (McCullough reads the Audible version); these are recollections of an eminent historian and American treasure. 

You will discover that impact is not the privilege of the young (John Quincy Adams), of how much can be done by doing (Thomas Jefferson), that education is the highest calling (Benjamin Rush), that courage is standing up to challenge and pressure (Margaret Chase Smith), and what separates great politicians is not race, but the pride that comes from serving as a politician (Barbara Jordan). 

Read The American Spirit. It will fortify you, challenge you, and encourage you to be a better citizen of this great country.

Five reasons to read:

1. McCullough’s grasp of history.

2. McCullough’s ability to communicate history, to bring it back to life.

3. McCullough’s assertion of the relationship of understanding history to solving present problems: “almost any attempt to solve a problem without an understanding of history is to court failure.”

4. McCullough’s finely tuned gift for extracting and applying historical actors, anecdotes, and aphorisms in ways that enable us to value and profit from our past. This from reflecting on Jefferson: “By reaching for the stars, Jefferson gave us all the impulse. He liked to talk about the energy of an idea. At times he seemed all ideas, all energy. ‘It is wonderful how much may be done, if we are always doing.’” And in that spirit he urges us to do, to participate in the history of America.

5. McCullough’s enduring hope that we can, by looking back, move forward to a better day.