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Updated 6:30 PM June 5, 2007




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Renowned historian David McCullough to help celebrate U-M librarian's career

Few historians have probed the depths of the American experience with the authority and clarity of David McCullough. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his biography, "John Adams," and author of the best-selling "1776," McCullough's body of work sets the standard high for historians and authors who aim to reach mainstream readers.
McCullough (Photo courtesy David McCullough)

A search for historical documents from the founding of the nation brought McCullough to the U-M Clements Library, one of the nation's preeminent repositories of documents and letters of officers and key civilians during the American Revolution era.

As an explicit gesture of appreciation, McCullough will appear in Ann Arbor next month for an event honoring John Dann, director of the Clements Library. Dann will retire at the end of June, concluding 35 years in the top post.

McCullough will present his lecture, "Ambition to Excel," at 4 p.m. June 11 in Rackham Auditorium. The lecture is open to the public. There is no charge.

"John Dann is a man whose work I have known and drawn on for insight and inspiration time and again, and even before I took up the American Revolution as part of my own work," wrote McCullough in a letter confirming his appearance at Dann's retirement banquet.

Dann's notable works in deepening scholars understanding of the political, military and social conditions of the Revolutionary era include "The Nagle Journal: A Dairy of the Life of Jacob Nagle, Sailor (1775-1841)," and "The Revolution Remembered," in which he edited memoirs of Revolutionary War participants who applied for government pensions.

Since the 1920s, researchers and scholars of the American Revolution have come to the Clements Library to examine documents, letters and maps from the papers of British commanders, including Lieutenant General Thomas Gage, commander in chief of the British forces in North America (1763-1775); and Gen. Nathanael Greene, second in command to George Washington.

In his most recently acclaimed book "1776," McCullough drew on historical sources at the Clements Library to piece together a portrait of American life and revolutionary character that critics have lauded as a brilliant and powerful rendering of the circumstances and people who shaped extraordinary events.

McCullough's other published works include "The Johnstown Flood," "The Great Bridge," "The Path Between the Seas," "Mornings on Horseback," "Brave Companions," and "Truman," for which he received a Pulitzer Prize. "John Adams" is among the most widely read biographies of an American president.

Many viewers also have watched and heard McCullough on television. He is host of "Smithsonian World" and "The American Experience." McCullough also is the narrative voice of Ken Burns' acclaimed 1990 documentary, "The Civil War," and narrator in the film, "Seabiscuit."

In December 2006 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award.

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