David McCullough, master chronicler of American history, dies at 89

His biographies of two underappreciated presidents, John Adams and Harry S. Truman, shone a light on their achievements and earned him two Pulitzer Prizes.

When he turned his attention to the great forces and figures in American history, such as the American Revolution (“1776”) or President Theodore Roosevelt (“Mornings on Horseback”), he brought to life the grand sweep of time and place, as well as the colorful, minute historical details that characterized his widely lauded storytelling skills.

With his sonorous and somber voice, commanding presence and shock of white hair, Mr. McCullough appeared frequently on television series such as PBS’s “American Experience.” He often collaborated with filmmaker Ken Burns and narrated Burns’s Emmy Award-winning documentary series “The Civil War.”

“He’s had a profound influence on all I’ve done because he taught me how to tell a story,” Burns told an audience in 2015.

Mr. McCullough’s honors included two National Book Awards and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, presented in 2006 by George W. Bush.

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