David McCullough quotes

  • Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.
    -- David McCullough

    #Air #Views #Challenges

  • Real success is finding your lifework in the work that you love.
    -- David McCullough

    #Motivational #Real #Work

  • Never assume that people in positions of responsibility are behaving responsibly.
    -- David McCullough

    #Responsibility #People #Assuming

  • History is not the story of heroes entirely. It is often the story of cruelty and injustice and shortsightedness. There are monsters, there is evil, there is betrayal. That's why people should read Shakespeare and Dickens as well as history ~~ they will find the best, the worst, the height of noble attainment and the depths of depravity.
    -- David McCullough

    #Betrayal #Book #Reading

  • Develop and protect a moral sensibility and demonstrate the character to apply it. Dream big. Work hard. Think for yourself. Love everything you love, everyone you love, with all your might. And do so, please, with a sense of urgency, for every tick of the clock subtracts from fewer and fewer.
    -- David McCullough

    #Dream #Hard Work #Character

  • The great thing about the arts is that you can only learn to do it by doing it.
    -- David McCullough

    #Art #Art Is #Great Things

  • The evil of technology was not technology itself, Lindbergh came to see after the war, not in airplanes or the myriad contrivances of modern technical igenuity, but in the extent to which they can distance us from our better moral nature, or sense of personal accountability.
    -- David McCullough

    #War #Distance #Airplane

  • Climb the mountain so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.
    -- David McCullough

    #Wisdom #Famous Motivational #Mountain

  • If everyone is special, then no one is. If everyone gets a trophy, trophies become meaningless.
    -- David McCullough

    #Special #Trophies #Meaningless

  • My wife, the star I steer by.
    -- David McCullough

    #Marriage #Stars #Wife

  • I just thank my father and mother, my lucky stars, that I had the advantage of an education in the humanities.
    -- David McCullough

    #Mother #Stars #Father

  • No harm's done to history by making it something someone would want to read.
    -- David McCullough

    #History #Done #Want

  • Every book is a new journey. I never felt I was an expert on a subject as I embarked on a project.
    -- David McCullough

    #Book #Journey #Experts

  • It was a day and age that saw no reason why one could not learn whatever was required - learn vitally anything - by the close study of books.
    -- David McCullough

    #Book #Age #Saws

  • The first of all qualities of a general is courage.
    -- David McCullough

    #Courage #Quality #Firsts

  • Read. Read all the time. Read as a matter of principle, as a matter of self-respect. Read as a nourishing staple of life.
    -- David McCullough

    #Self #Principles #Matter

  • To me history ought to be a source of pleasure. It isn't just part of our civic responsibility. To me it's an enlargement of the experience of being alive, just the way literature or art or music is.
    -- David McCullough

    #Art #Responsibility #Enlargement

  • Spotting talent is one of the essential elements of great leadership.
    -- David McCullough

    #Inspirational #Motivational #Great Leadership

  • There's an awful temptation to just keep on researching. There comes a point where you just have to stop, and start writing.
    -- David McCullough

    #Writing #Temptation #Awful

  • The year 1776, celebrated as the birth year of the nation and for the signing of the Declaration of Independence, was for those who carried the fight for independence forward a year of all-too-few victories, of sustained suffering, disease, hunger, desertion, cowardice, disillusionment, defeat, terrible discouragement, and fear, as they would never forget, but also of phenomenal courage and bedrock devotion to country, and that, too they would never forget.
    -- David McCullough

    #Country #Fighting #Years

  • If you get down about the state of American culture, just remember there are still more public libraries in this country than there are McDonalds.
    -- David McCullough

    #Country #Mcdonalds #Library

  • Nothing ever invented provides such sustenance, such infinite reward for time spent, as a good book.
    -- David McCullough

    #Book #Rewards #Infinite

  • People often ask me if I'm working on a book. That's not how I feel. I feel like I work in a book. It's like putting myself under a spell. And this spell, if you will, is so real to me that if I have to leave my work for a few days, I have to work myself back into the spell when I come back. It's almost like hypnosis.
    -- David McCullough

    #Real #Book #Hypnosis

  • Courage is contagious. If a leader shows courage, others get the idea.
    -- David McCullough

    #Ideas #Leader #Contagious

  • Writing is thinking. To write well is to think clearly. That's why it's so hard.
    -- David McCullough

    #Writing #Thinking #Wells

  • The source of our suffering has been our timidity. We have been afraid to think....Let us dare to read, think, speak, write.
    -- David McCullough

    #Writing #Thinking #Suffering

  • How can we know who we are and where we are going if we don't know anything about where we have come from and what we have been through, the courage shown, the costs paid, to be where we are?
    -- David McCullough

    #Cost #Who We Are

  • I've always been dissatisfied, I know that. But lately I find that I reek of discontentment. It fills my throat, and it floods my brain. And sometimes I fear there is no longer a dream, but only the discontentment.
    -- David McCullough

    #Dream #Brain #Sometimes

  • A leader must look and act the part.
    -- David McCullough

    #Leader #Looks

  • There are no people on earth in whom a spirit of enthusiastic zeal is so readily kindled, and burns so remarkably, as Americans
    -- David McCullough

    #People #Earth #Spirit

  • There is only one person who can measure your success. That person is you.
    -- David McCullough

    #Inspirational #Congratulations #Persons

  • Freedom is found through the portals of our nation's libraries.
    -- David McCullough

    #Democracy #Library #Portal

  • We must not think of learning as only what happens in schools. It is an extended part of life. The most readily available resource for all of life is our public library system.
    -- David McCullough

    #School #Thinking #Library

  • ...Had proven himself a leader of remarkable ability, a man not only of enterprising ideas, but with the staying power to carry them out.
    -- David McCullough

    #Men #Ideas #Leader

  • To this noble end the delegates had pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.
    -- David McCullough

    #Honor #Sacred #Noble

  • He had kept his head, kept his health and his strength, bearing up under a weight of work and worry that only a few could have carried.
    -- David McCullough

    #Worry #Weight

  • Napoleon could never imagine that some people loved their country as much as he loved his own.
    -- David McCullough

    #Country #People #History

  • Washington had performed his role to perfection. It was no enough that a leader look the part; by Washington's rules, he must know how to act it with self-command and precision.
    -- David McCullough

    #Self #Perfection #Leader

  • In fact, it was the largest expeditionary force of the 18th century. The largest, most powerful force ever set forth from Britain or any nation.
    -- David McCullough

    #Powerful #Facts #Century

  • George P. A. Healy; "I knew no one in France, I was utterly ignorant of the language, I did not know what I should do when once there; but I was not yet one-and-twenty, and I had a great stock of courage, of inexperience—which is sometimes a great help—and a strong desire to be my very best.
    -- David McCullough

    #Strong #Ignorant #Desire

  • Washington was a man of exceptional, almost excessive self-command, rarely permitting himself any show of discouragement or despair.
    -- David McCullough

    #Courage #Men #Self

  • The preparations were elaborate and mammoth in scale, and Washington threw himself into the effort, demanding that not an hour be lost.
    -- David McCullough

    #Effort #Preparation #Hours

  • They must be cool but determined...he threatened instant death to any man who showed cowardice.
    -- David McCullough

    #Death #Men #Determined

  • I lament the want of a liberal education. I feel the mist of ignorance to surround me - Nathanael Greene
    -- David McCullough

    #Ignorance #Want #Mist

  • A nation that forgets its past can function no better than an individual with amnesia.
    -- David McCullough

    #Past #History #Forget

  • The more Adams thought about the future of his country, the more convinced he became that it rested on education. Before any great things are accomplished, he wrote to a correspondent, a memorable change must be made in the system of education and knowledge must become so general as to raise the lower ranks of society nearer to the higher. The education of a nation instead of being confined to a few schools and universities for the instruction of the few, must become the national care and expense for the formation of the many.
    -- David McCullough

    #Country #Memorable #School

  • I feel that as much as I enjoy loafing, there is something higher for which to live.
    -- David McCullough

    #Enjoy #Feels #Higher

  • Nobody ever lived in the past.
    -- David McCullough

    #Past

  • When the founders wrote about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, they didn't mean longer vacations and more comfortable hammocks. They meant the pursuit of learning. The pursuit of improvement and excellence. In hard work is happiness.
    -- David McCullough

    #Hard Work #Mean #Pursuit Of Happiness

  • I think it is one of the most extraordinary elections, a turning point for our country and for the world. That remarkable young man [Barack Obama] has kept his demeanor, kept his temperament and has shown a power to inspire. I see what energy that he has inspired among the young. Well, it inspires us old goats too.
    -- David McCullough

    #Country #Men #Thinking

  • You can't love what you don't know much about. You can't convince, stimulate, hold the attention, teach, if you don't know what you're talking about.
    -- David McCullough

    #Knowledge #Talking #Attention

  • You've got to marinate your head, in that time and culture. You've got to become them." (Speaking about researching, and reading, and immersing yourself in History)
    -- David McCullough

    #Reading #Culture

  • According to Adams, Jefferson proposed that he, Adams, do the writing [pf the Declaration of Independence], but that he declined, telling Jefferson he must do it. Why?" Jefferson asked, as Adams would recount. Reasons enough," Adams said. What can be your reasons?" Reason first: you are a Virginian and a Virginian ought to appear at the head of this business. Reason second: I am obnoxious, suspected and unpopular. You are very much otherwise. Reason third: You can write ten times better than I can.
    -- David McCullough

    #Writing #Independence #Firsts

  • I'm very aware how many distractions the reader has in life today, how many good reasons there are to put the book down.
    -- David McCullough

    #Book #Today #Madness

  • Only those who [do] nothing [make] no mistakes.
    -- David McCullough

    #Mistake

  • In time I began to understand that it's when you start writing that you really find out what you don't know and need to know.
    -- David McCullough

    #Writing #Needs

  • Read. Read every chance you get. Read to keep growing. Read history. Read poetry. Read for pure enjoyment. Read a book called Life on a Little Known Planet. It's about insects. It will make you feel better.
    -- David McCullough

    #Book #Reading #Feel Better

  • History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are.
    -- David McCullough

    #History #Who We Are #Way

  • You can't be a full participant in our democracy if you don't know our history.
    -- David McCullough

    #Democracy

  • Any nation that expects to be ignorant and free," Jefferson said, "expects what never was and never will be." And if the gap between the educated and the uneducated in America continues to grow as it is in our time, as fast as or faster than the gap between the rich and the poor, the gap between the educated and the uneducated is going to be of greater consequence and the more serious threat to our way of life. We must not, by any means, misunderstand that.
    -- David McCullough

    #Mean #America #Ignorant

  • When a friend of Abigail and John Adams was killed at Bunker Hill, Abigail's response was to write a letter to her husband and include these words, "My bursting heart must find vent at my pen.
    -- David McCullough

    #Husband #Grief #Writing

  • It would be the most crucial day of the entire war.
    -- David McCullough

    #War #History #Would Be

  • However little television you watch, watch less.
    -- David McCullough

    #Watches #Television #Littles

  • My next book is also set in the eighteenth century. Its about the Revolution, with the focus on the year 1776. Its about Washington and the army and the war. Its the nadir, the low point of the United States of America.
    -- David McCullough

    #War #Book #Army

  • I think that we need history as much as we need bread or water or love.
    -- David McCullough

    #Thinking #Water #Needs

  • My shorthand answer is that I try to write the kind of book that I would like to read. If I can make it clear and interesting and compelling to me, then I hope maybe it will be for the reader.
    -- David McCullough

    #Book #Writing #Interesting

  • The pull, the attraction of history, is in our human nature. What makes us tick? Why do we do what we do? How much is luck the deciding factor?
    -- David McCullough

    #Luck #Human Nature #Tick

  • May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.
    -- David McCullough

    #Wise #Men #May

  • To write is to think, and to write well is to think well,
    -- David McCullough

    #Writing #Thinking #Wells

  • The truth isn't just the facts. You can have all the facts imaginable and miss the truth, just as you can have facts missing or some wrong, and reach the larger truth.
    -- David McCullough

    #Knowledge #Missing #Facts

  • I'm drawn particularly to stories that evolve out of the character of the protagonist.
    -- David McCullough

    #Character #Stories #Evolve

  • I work very hard on the writing, writing and rewriting and trying to weed out the lumber.
    -- David McCullough

    #Weed #Writing #Trying

  • I would pay to do what I do if I had to.
    -- David McCullough

    #Pay

  • I love Dickens. I love the way he sets a scene.
    -- David McCullough

    #Way #Scene #Dickens

  • I love all sides of the work but that doesn't mean it isn't hard.
    -- David McCullough

    #Mean #Sides

  • Curiosity is what separates us from the cabbages. It's accelerative. The more we know, the more we want to know.
    -- David McCullough

    #Curiosity #Want #Cabbage

  • I had been writing for about twelve years. I knew pretty well how you could find things out, but I had never been trained in an academic way how to go about the research.
    -- David McCullough

    #Writing #Years #Twelve

  • First of all, you can make the argument that there's no such thing as the past. Nobody lived in the past.
    -- David McCullough

    #Past #Firsts #Argument

  • I can fairly be called an amateur because I do what I do, in the original sense of the word - for love, because I love it. On the other hand, I think that those of us who make our living writing history can also be called true professionals.
    -- David McCullough

    #Writing #Love Is #Thinking

  • Our obligations to our country never cease but with our lives. - John Adams
    -- David McCullough

    #Country #Patriotism #Obligation

  • The past after all is only another name for someone else's present.
    -- David McCullough

    #Past #Names

  • I think it's important to remember that these men are not perfect. If they were marble gods, what they did wouldn't be so admirable. The more we see the founders as humans the more we can understand them.
    -- David McCullough

    #Thinking #Men #Perfect

  • History is not just about dates and quotations. And it's not just about politics, the military and social issues, though much of it of course is about that. It's about everything. It's about life history. It's human. And we have to see it that way. We have to teach it that way. We have to read it that way. It's about art, music, literature, money, science, love - the human experience.
    -- David McCullough

    #Art #Military #Issues

  • Housetops were covered with 'gazers'; all wharves that offered a view were jammed with people ... As British officers happily reminded one another, it was the largest fleet ever seen in American waters. In fact it was the largest expeditionary force of the 18th century, the largest, most powerful force ever sent forth by Britain or any other nation.
    -- David McCullough

    #Powerful #Views #People

  • It was an utterly phenomenal achievement.
    -- David McCullough

    #Achievement #Phenomenal

  • Let the children have their night of fun and laughter. Let the gifts of Father Christmas delight their play. Let us grown-ups share to the full in their unstinted pleasures before we turn again to the stern task and the formidable years that lie before us, resolved that, by our sacrifice and daring, these same children shall not be robbed of their inheritance or denied their right to live in a free and decent world." Winston Churchill Christmas Eve Message, 1941 as printed in "In the Dark Streets Shineth.
    -- David McCullough

    #Christmas #Laughter #Children

  • You have overburdened your argument with ostentatious erudition." Spoken by Abigail Adams
    -- David McCullough

    #Argument #Abigail #Ostentatious

  • The more we see the founders as humans the more we can understand them.
    -- David McCullough

    #Founders #Humans

  • There's no such thing as a foreseeable future.
    -- David McCullough

  • Just imagine if in his inaugural address John F. Kennedy had said, 'Ask not what your country can, you know, do for you, but what you can, like, do for your country actually,
    -- David McCullough

    #Country #Addresses #Imagine

  • Exercise free will and creative, independent thought not for the satisfactions they will bring you, but for the good they will do others, the rest of the 6.8 billion–and those who will follow them.  And then you too will discover the great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself.  The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that you’re not special. Because everyone is.
    -- David McCullough

    #Independent #Exercise #Creative

  • The fulfilling life, the distinctive life, the relevant life is an achievement. To do whatever you do for no reason other than you love it and believe in its importance.
    -- David McCullough

    #Believe #Achievement #Life Is

  • With the Truman book, I wrote the entire account of his experiences in World War I before going over to Europe to follow his tracks in the war. When I got there, there was a certain satisfaction in finding I had it right - it does look like that.
    -- David McCullough

    #War #Book #Europe

  • The title always comes last. What I really work hard on is the beginning. Where do you begin? In what tone do you begin? I almost have to have a scene in my mind.
    -- David McCullough

    #Hard Work #Mind #Titles

  • With the situation as gray as it could be, no one was more conspicuous in his calm presence of mind than Washington. They must be "cool but determined" he had told the men before the battle, when spirits were high. Now, in the face of catastrophe, he was demonstrating what he meant by his own example. Whatever anger or torment or despair he felt, he kept to himself.
    -- David McCullough

    #Men #Mind #Despair

  • People are so helpful. People will stop what they're doing to show you something, to walk with you through a section of the town, or explain how a suspension bridge really works.
    -- David McCullough

    #Bridges #People #Towns

  • Morality only is eternal. All the rest is balloon and bubble from the cradle to the grave.
    -- David McCullough

    #Balloons #Morality #Cradle

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