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The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  3,428 ratings  ·  678 reviews
A New York Times Bestseller

A timely collection of speeches by David McCullough, the most honored historian in the United States—winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, two National Book Awards, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among many others—that reminds us of fundamental American principles.

Over the course of his distinguished career, David McCullough has spoken before Co
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published April 18th 2017 by Simon Schuster
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Nettie Very amusing......a few of these people I detest and have no interest.......but Donald Trump....MAGA!

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4.25  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,428 ratings  ·  678 reviews

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Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Thank you, David McCullough, for writing this book. I appreciated the inspiration and optimism when the state of the world seems especially bleak.

The American Spirit is a wonderful collection of speeches McCullough has given over the years. If you aren't familiar with his work, McCullough is an American historian who has written some excellent books, including John Adams, Truman, 1776 and The Wright Brothers. In an interview with Time magazine, McCullough said he decided to publish this book in
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
“Read history. By all means, read history.”

“The American Spirit” is a collection of speeches given by historian David McCullough, beginning in 1989 and ending in 2016. Like all such collections, it has its hits and some lesser moments. I will not call any of them misses, as I found value in all of them.
Some highlights of the collection include “Which Way Forward”, a commencement speech McCullough gave at Union College in 1994. If only the advice he gave that generation, (my generation) was follo
”Can it be that it was all so simple then
Or has time rewritten every line
And if we had the chance to do it all again
Tell me
Would we?
Could we?”

--The Way We Were, Barbara Streisand, Songwriters: Alan Bergman / Marilyn Bergman / Marvin Hamlisch

“Perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages.”
-- George Washington

A collection of some of David McCullough’s speeches, given at graduations, events, citizenship ceremonies over the years. By their nature, these are individually not overly l
Doreen Miller
Apr 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic, of course. The best way to read this book is by listening to the audio version. McCullough has the most amazing voice!
David Huff
Jun 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-book
My daughter recently sent me a clipping from the Memorial Day weekend Wall Street Journal opinion page. It was a piece by Peggy Noonan titled "Why History Will Repay Your Love", and it was her review of historian David McCullough's new book, "The American Spirit". This short volume is a collection of some of his speeches from the last couple of decades, most of them graduation addresses.

McCullough, now in his eighties, is a Pulitzer Prize winning writer, an American treasure who is much honored
Sam Linton
Apr 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you've never read anything by David McCullough, start with this appetizer. Otherwise, this is dessert. Enjoy!
"Never forget that one of the greatest of our freedoms is the freedom to think for yourself" ~ DAVID MCcULLOUGH, "The Bulwork of Freedom," Ohio University 2004.

The internet, and by turns - the world, America being no exception, is flush with a plethora of information, misinformation, truths, half-truths, doom, gloom, sensationalism, misnomers, misconceptions, falsehoods, and flat-out lies. To believe everything one reads is to despair of all hope; network news isn't known for accurate, balanced
Aug 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio, overdrive
I was disappointed by this book because I was hoping for more analysis and insight. However my disappointment is really my own fault because I didn't pay enough attention to its description. This book is a collection of the author's speeches presented at graduations, citizenship ceremonies, event celebrations, etc. These speeches, by their nature, are short and shallow. They also devote a lot of time to flattering the audience and praising local historical figures.
Meg - A Bookish Affair
Aug 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, non-fiction
I didn't realize what "The American Spirit" was about really when I picked it up but David McCullough is one of my very favorite historians and he is definitely on my automatic read list. This book is filled with speeches that the author has given everywhere from in front of Congress to commencement speeches in front of college students. This book is filled with inspiration and stories of parts of American history that it was good to be reminded of as well as stories that I was unfamiliar with. ...more
Apr 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I devoured this little book by America's distinguished historian. He shares speeches he made between 1989 and 2016. So much wit and wisdom. Everybody ought to read this.
Elizabeth S
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Read. Read history.

These two simple instructions inform this selection of McCullough's past speeches, and they convey quite a grand message - albeit an unassuming one.

Speech collections are not at all my thing unless they're the words of people who have already passed. David McCullough is still thankfully alive and continuing to work, so while his words have great impact, they have likely only begun to shape our thoughts.

Many of these speeches were given at colleges, while the rest happened on t
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Clearly in these trying political times the United States is facing an identity crisis. If anything, America has become a divisive country of minorities of all political, racial, sociological and economic backgrounds without much respect towards those on the opposite side of the spectrum. Can't we all work as a whole once again and use our differences as a strength instead of a barrier to progress? Time will tell. The rise of Trumpianism will probably be remembered as a dark stain in western civ ...more
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! Each speech given by David McCullough is like a mini history lesson with great stories and insights. I felt like it was the perfect read for the patriotic month of July. He said: “An astute observer of old wrote that history is philosophy taught with examples. Harry Truman liked to say that the only new thing in the world is the history you don’t know. From history we learn that sooner is not necessarily better than later...that what we don’t know can often hurt us and badly.. ...more
John of Canada
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Miles Smith
This is a really charming collection of McCullough’s speeches. Most were given at college or university commencements. They aren’t provocative or necessarily even thought-provoking. The author is more affirming, than critical, of American ideals. But given the lack of any real unifying principles in American intellectual and political life, this collection is timely.
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent. Not to be missed.
David Steele
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A collection of inspiring speeches by the greatest living biographer, David McCullough.
Excellent collection of speeches given to graduates, houses of Congress, and other institutions and groups.

This slim volume has pictures in some chapters, and each chapter can be read alone. My knowledge of American history and related topics has certainly been updated by reading what McCullough has chosen to share in this book.

I recommend it to all readers.
Demetrius Rogers
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Fantastic! If you enjoy David McCullough this book is a gem. Beautifully designed, with photo images, this volume contains some of McCullough's best speeches. I read this on the plane trip back from Washington DC and to me it summed up our experience beautifully. So many nuggets of American wisdom and sentiment. A couple of the speeches ("Knowing Who We Are" and "The Love of Learning") is worth the price of the book. This one is going on the night stand.
5 plus. David McCullough's compilation of some of his speeches, many given at college commencements, so moved me that I gave a copy to everyone at Mother's Day brunch. "Mom! Why are you giving everyone presents on Mother's Day?!"

I simply wanted to spread the palpable optimism and obvious faith in the American Spirit (and his aptly titled book) that can be found on almost every page of McCullough's beautiful written book. And who thought history could be so interesting?
May 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To say McCullough is a national treasure would be an understatement. As the preeminent voice on many of American history’s greatest legends, in my opinion, reading his speeches that pull wisdom from our past exemplifies exactly what a writer should be able to do. Like many of the speeches and texts he pulls from, McCullough writes in a memorable and at times “call-to-action” manner. A lovely, quick read based in the tenacity of the American spirit.
Dec 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essay, history
Summary: A collection of addresses given by the author articulating some of the defining and distinctive qualities that define America at its best.

David McCullough has been one of those authors whose books I always make a point to pick up whenever a new one comes out. I was tempted to make an exception with this one, not usually being drawn to read transcripts of speeches. When I found it at a good discount, I took the plunge and I am glad I did.

The thread that links these speeches, given betwee
Warren Benton
McCullough will probably be known as one of the greatest historians of the modern time.  This book is a compilation of various speeches McCullough has given over the years.  Most were at commencement speeches to various colleges.  They combine his love of history, with an understanding of the men, women, and events that have shaped our country to form a hopeful view of the future.  Reading this book in the political climate of the Trump presidency is kind of interesting. McCullough is talking ab ...more
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-history
David McCullough is an amazing writer and historian; you can feel his love and enthusiasm for the topic at hand permeate the pages of his books. This is a collection of his speeches, given at iconic and historically significant places around the US and on topics of what makes America truly great. Over and over again, he points out that the only way "America", the idea and America, the country can ever be, is through cooperation, through unity of spirit (not necessarily opinion) and through actio ...more
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful little book of David McCullough’s speeches that read like great short stories. It’s like having many private conversations with Mr. McCullough where he shares his most favorite, amazing bits of history.
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio
An enjoyable collection of speeches given by David McCullough. Lots to glean in regards to how we best love, serve and honor our country.

One action point: read history.
I think this was a fantastic book! Sooo many good points and great facts about America. Anyone can and should read this! He talks so much about Abigail Adams in this... I wonder if he is thinking of doing a biography on her. What an amazing and wise woman.
Jim Beatty
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
1/3 of college graduates read less than 1 book a year.
Kathryn Bashaar
May 26, 2017 rated it liked it
In this dark and divided time in our nation's history, it's good to be reminded of the values that we share. I enjoyed reading these transcriptions of speeches that McCullough has delivered over the past 30 years. None of them is exactly alike; he really took the time to develop a speech that played on the history of the place where he was speaking and the specifics of the occasion. But it still felt a little repetitive to read them all at once. I think I'd have enjoyed the book more if I'd read ...more
May 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, five-stars
Truly, a gem. Everyone knows of McCullough’s reputation as one of America’s outstanding historians. But I often have trouble reading his works – which are always five stars – just because I lose interest in long, difficult to read passages. “American Spirit” contains 15 of McCullough’s graduation speeches, which are short, concise remarks reflecting on the importance of understanding our history. They’re wonderful snippets on the ideas and events that made our country great, and they help to bet ...more
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David McCullough has twice received the Pulitzer Prize, for Truman and John Adams, and twice received the National Book Award, for The Path Between the Seas and Mornings on Horseback; His other widely praised books are 1776, Brave Companions, The Great Bridge, and The Johnstown Flood. He has been honored with the National Book Foundation Distinguished Contribution to American Letters Award, the Na ...more
“When bad news is riding high and despair in fashion, when loud mouths and corruption seem to own center stage, when some keep crying that the country is going to the dogs, remember it’s always been going to the dogs in the eyes of some, and that 90 percent, or more, of the people are good people, generous-hearted, law-abiding, good citizens who get to work on time, do a good job, love their country, pay their taxes, care about their neighbors, care about their children’s education, and believe, rightly, as you do, in the ideals upon which our way of life is founded.” 3 likes
“Why do some men reach for the stars and so many others never even look up?” 3 likes
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