May 6, 2019
Since his marvelous 1968 book The Johnstown Flood, and through National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winning works like The Path Between the Seas, Mornings on Horseback, and John Adams, McCullough has brought his brilliantly illuminated pieces of the American story together like segments of a stained glass window. At 85 years old, David McCullough could be expected to want to rest on his laurels. But his brand new book The Pioneers is bursting with the energy and curiosity of its subjects. It's the story of the early settlers of the then freshly-acquired piece of America called the Northwest Territory, in the era just after the War of Independence had been won. It's the story of courage and community, risk and determination, and how the pioneers made a critical decision about the nature of the place they were going to build — a decision that would have enormous effects on the country in the decades to come. To talk about The Pioneers, we asked if we could visit David McCullough at his home in Massachusetts, where he works and writes, and he was kind enough to invite us to bring our microphones along.