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

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

by David McCullough


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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 Congress, the White House, colleges and universities, historical societies, and other esteemed institutions. Now, at a time of self-reflection in America following a bitter election campaign that has left the country divided, McCullough has collected some of his most important speeches in a brief volume designed to identify important principles and characteristics that are particularly American. The American Spirit reminds us of core American values to which we all subscribe, regardless of which region we live in, which political party we identify with, or our ethnic background. This is a book about America for all Americans that reminds us who we are and helps to guide us as we find our way forward.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501174193
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 04/10/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 43,237
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

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 acclaimed books include The Johnstown Flood, The Great Bridge, Brave Companions, 1776, The Greater Journey, and The Wright Brothers. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. Visit


West Tisbury, Massachusetts

Date of Birth:

July 7, 1933

Place of Birth:

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


B.A., Yale University, 1955

Read an Excerpt

The American Spirit

Washington, D.C.


Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Senator Dole, Members of the 101st Congress, ladies and gentlemen. For a private citizen to be asked to speak before Congress is a rare and very high honor and I thank you.

Simon Willard was never a Member of Congress in the usual sense. Simon Willard of Roxbury, Massachusetts, was a clockmaker early in the nineteenth century and he did it all by hand and by eye.

“In cutting his wheel teeth,” reads an old account, “he did not mark out the spaces on the blank [brass] wheel and cut the teeth to measure, but he cut, rounded up and finished the teeth as he went along, using his eye only in spacing, and always came out even. . . .

Table of Contents

Introduction xiii

Simon Willard's Clock 1

Civilization and the City 15

The Spirit of Jefferson 25

Which Way Forward 33

The Animating Spirit 43

The Lessons of History 53

What's Essential Is Invisible 59

The First to Reside Here 77

History Lost and Found 83

The Bulwark of Freedom 95

Knowing Who We Are 105

The Ties That Bind 121

The Love of Learning 141

The Summons to Serve 149

A Building Like Not Other 157

Acknowledgments 172

Photo Credits 173

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The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
DRWells More than 1 year ago
McCullough's passion for using the stories of people's lives - that is, history - to inspire us to lead productive, beneficial lives is as evident in his speeches (some of which are collected in this book) as in his wonderful books. It's short, so you will not need a huge block of time, but be sure you have a few hours blocked out before you start this one - you will not want to put it down.
insanepoet65 More than 1 year ago
TITLE: The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For AUTHOR: David McCullough GENRE: History PAGES: 192 I have to start by saying this is one of the most exceptional books I have read in a very long time. David McCullough gathered some of his speeches given at various commencement ceremonies and celebrations, and gave us a love letter to the United States of America. In The American Spirit, he shows us what made us great, and what makes us great to this day. He gives words of history, especially in the areas he was speaking at, and gave words of encouragement to read, read history, poetry, literature, and learn. It is in knowing where we came from that we can map out where we should go. Most of all, this book is filled with American pride, and what we should be proud of. He takes insights of the books he has written; The Path Between the Seas, John Adams, 1776, Truman, Mornings on Horseback, and give us some of the lesser known, but tremendous stories of our American heroes, and states his case to love America for being the great country it is. 5 out of 5 bookmarks and a strong recommendation!
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