David McCullough: Says "history is human"

Historians in the News

Inside a peaked white tent on the grounds of President James Madison’s vast green plantation, all eyes were on premier historian David McCullough, an award-winning writer, a commanding public speaker and host of The American Experience on PBS.

The warm air did not move as a captivated crowd of more than 100 hung on his every word, absorbing a message that history is not just politics, war or social issues.

History is also about music and literature, laws and finance, McCullough told the historians, preservationists, and cultural advocates gathered at Thursday afternoon’s annual gathering of The Journey Through Hallowed Ground partnership.

“It’s about life,” he said. “History is human.”

McCullough, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of John Adams, the second president – on which HBO based its recent seven-part documentary – issued a stern challenge: to understand who we are is to study and understand all aspects of our history.

And to understand history, he said, requires reading. It’s what our forefathers did best.

“George Washington never had much education at all,” said the Yale University alum. “He was on his own since the age of 16, yet he was very well-educated because he never stopped reading.”
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