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Brave Companions: Portraits In History Paperback – November 1, 1992


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Brave Companions: Portraits In History + Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt + The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal, 1870-1914
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (November 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671792768
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671792763
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (124 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Despite the diversity of their interests and achievements, the men and women profiled in this collection of 17 essays by bestselling historian McCullough ( The Great Bridge ; The Path Between the Seas ) had a lot in common. Whether scientist (Louis Agassiz, Alexander von Humboldt), engineer (John and Washington Roebling), writer (Harriet Beecher Stowe, Conrad Aiken) or artist (Frederic Remington), each had a special perspective that continues to influence us. A skilled portraitist, McCullough vibrantly captures these viewpoints as he relates their impact on his own thought. Produced over 20 years, the essays unfold seamlessly to reveal the uniqueness of individuals whose "work and interests are inspiriting forces." History Book Club and QPB alternates.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA-- McCullough's compendium of fascinating mini-biographies is a sheer delight, and will hold the attention of many history and science students. In this distillation of over 20 years of his shorter essays, the author chose individuals who are distinctive for their contributions to culture. The 17 biographies highlight the fields of social work, etymology, architecture, literature, and history, all of which are interconnected in memorable ways. The book maintains strong reader interest because of an intelligent, practiced, precise style combined with a wise and rich choice of subject. Familiar figures such as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Miriam Rothschild, and Teddy Roosevelt share space with lesser-known individuals--but all are people who merit admiration. Superb storytelling with a unique slant makes this work a strong acquisition for all collections.
- Carol Beall, Immanuel Christian School, Springfield, VA
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More 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 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 National Humanities Medal, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Customer Reviews

Like EVERYTHING that David McCullough writes, it is wonderful.
Gregory E. Foster
The author can be trusted with the facts and although the books are long, the reader doesn't want them to end - they are that interesting!
V. L. Wilson
McCullough shows that history is more than great men and great events.
Marty Cusack (kcougars@aol.com)

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

214 of 217 people found the following review helpful By Eric H. Roth on May 22, 2002
Format: Paperback
What a delightful, inspiring collection of concise biographical profiles!
MuCullough culls the last few centuries for extraordinary men and women whose names might vaguely trigger a bell, but whose achievements and courage have mostly been forgotten. Going beyond the trivia answers, McCullough recreates the historical context and human passions that drove Alexander von Humboldt to explore South America, Frederic Remington to paint a vanishing way of life, Harriet Beecher Stowe to write Uncle Tom's Cabin (the most popular book - and play of the 19th century America!), and Miriam Rothschild's studies of insects.
Yet the most fascinating chapter, by far, celebrates the literary powers of pioneer airplane pilots: Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Beryl Markham, and Charles and Anne Lindbergh. Rising above the clouds as no man or woman had ever done before, these courageous souls combined a love of science and technology with a sense of reverence for nature's beauty. "With the advance of the airplane, they were sure, the old barriers of time and distance would give way, bringing humanity closer together," writes McCullough. "That they would also share a common crisis in such faith is also part of their story."
McCullough does a remarkable job of resurrecting quirky hereoes and suggests that "courage is contagious." Perhaps he's wrong, but I hope he's right as we begin a new century of unknown peril and possibility.
P.S. I've given a few copies of this book as gifts to relatives and friends.
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94 of 95 people found the following review helpful By Brian D. Rubendall HALL OF FAME on February 28, 2003
Format: Hardcover
David McCullough is, arguably, the best popular historian of his generation. He has written amazing historical works ("The Johnstown Flood," "The Path Between the Seas," "The Great Bridge) and outstanding Presidential biographies ("Truman," "John Adams," "Mornings on Horseback"). In addition, over the years he has produced numerous shorter pieces for magazines, which were bound together for "Brave Companions."
As a historian, McCullogh has always been very interested in the lives of people, hence the title of the book. In his narrative he brings to life a number of historical figures, some of whom have become quite obscure. Alexander von Humboldt, for example, was a contemporary of Lewis and Clark whose scientific expedition to South America may have been a more impressive feat than the journey of the two Americans. "Uncle Tom's Cabin" author Harriet Beecher Stowe and Old West painter/sculptor Frederic Remington are the subjects of short but frank mini-biographies.
The biographical material remains McCullogh's strong suit and represents the best parts of this collection. A few of the other pieces don't work quite as well. Some were written as long as 30 plus years ago and are dated today. As with any collection of this kind, the reader is likely to focus on those articles that are of the most personal interest. At less that 250 pages of text, the book is a relatively quick read compared to most of McCullough's works.
Overall, an excellent historical work that will particularly be enjoyed by fans of David McCullough.
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63 of 64 people found the following review helpful By V. L. Wilson on November 1, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Since reading my first David McCullough book, MORNINGS ON HORSEBACK, I was delighted and impressed by the author's depth of research and his easy style of writing. I loved his book, JOHN ADAMS and also TRUMAN. The author can be trusted with the facts and although the books are long, the reader doesn't want them to end - they are that interesting! I plan to read all of David McCullough's books.
BRAVE COMPANIONS is a wonderful easily readable book of interesting in depth portraits of people with a purpose. The author makes his portrayals come alive in a unique way. You will learn how history was shaped by ordinary people who did amazing things. I was familiar with only a few such as Harriet Beecher Stowe and Charles and Anne Lindbergh, and was so pleasantly surprised to read about many others such as Miriam Rothschild and David Plowden. I am happy to have met all of these different and exceptional folks. The last chapter, Simon Willard's Clock is just plain great!
Be warned - when you begin reading this informative book, you will not stop until completing it and you will want to know even more about each subject - it's that good! And, like me, you will buy a few copies to give as gifts.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By R. DelParto VINE VOICE on September 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
David McCullough may be the most revered historian of the twentieth and twenty-first century. This may be somewhat exaggerated, but he keeps the romanticism of the past alive. The cover artwork of BRAVE COMPANIONS: PORTRAITS IN HISTORY shows the wide open spaces of the American landscape, which may suggest the stories and adventures that readers will discover when they read this book. McCullough revisits legendary and not as legendary individuals in American history that have made an impact on American society for their individual contributions. McCullough presents these individuals and their stories as ordinary people and not larger than life characters, which textbooks or biographies have portrayed them to be. Surprisingly, he earned a degree in English and not in History. However, that does not restrict him from preserving the memory of the past in a colorful way. His eloquent and personal writing style entices many to enjoy extensive pages of his narratives on historical figures such as, John Adams, George Washington, and Harry S. Truman.

BRAVE COMPANIONS: PORTRAITS IN HISTORY compiles early essays that McCullough wrote prior to and in between writings of his most notable novels that involved the Brooklyn Bridge, the Panama Canal, and a list of other topics that have found their way into his writings. BRAVE COMPANIONS paints a broad picture of Americana through these essays, and offers a somewhat personal glimpse of literary and historical figures such as, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Louis Agassiz, Miriam Rothschild, and Alexander von Humboldt, as ordinary people who happened to make it into the history books. McCullough introduces each character like an old friend; these are the people he grew to know through his studies and research, and this is his ode to a few of them.
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