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Ranking Author David McCullough’s Best Books (A Bibliography Countdown)

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“What are David McCullough’s Best Books?” We looked at all of McCullough’s authored bibliography and ranked them against one another to answer that very question!

We took all of the books written by David McCullough and looked at his Goodreads, Amazon, and LibraryThing scores, ranking them against one another to see which books came out on top. The books are ranked in our list below based on which titles have the highest overall score between all 3 review sites in comparison with all of the other books by the same author. The process isn’t super scientific and in reality, most books aren’t “better” than other books as much as they are just different. That being said, we do enjoy seeing where our favorites landed, and if you aren’t familiar with the author at all, the rankings can help you see what books might be best to start with.

The full ranking chart is also included below the countdown on the bottom of the page.

Happy Scrolling!



The Top Book’s Of David McCullough



12 ) In the Dark Streets Shineth: A 1941 Christmas Eve Story

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 12
  • Amazon: 12
  • LibraryThing: 12

David McCullough relates a compelling story about the spirit of Christmas and the power of light in difficult, dangerous times. As war raged throughout the world, two leaders–Roosevelt and Churchill–delivered a powerful message that still resonates today.

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11 ) The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 11
  • Amazon: 9
  • LibraryThing: 11

David McCullough tells the enthralling, inspiring—and until now, untold—story of the adventurous American artists, writers, doctors, politicians, and others who set off for Paris in the years between 1830 and 1900, hungry to learn and to excel in their work. What they achieved would profoundly alter American history.

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10 ) Brave Companions

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 10
  • Amazon: 9
  • LibraryThing: 10

A collection of portraits of men and women who changed history includes discussions of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederic Remington, Louis Agassiz, Charles and Anne Lindbergh, and others.

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9 ) Mornings on Horseback

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 5
  • Amazon: 9
  • LibraryThing: 7

This biography of young Theodore Roosevelt covers his youth when he demanded a strenuous life despite his asthma, weak eyes, and patrician family.

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7 ) 1776

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 8
  • Amazon: 4
  • LibraryThing: 8

Based on extensive research in both American and British archives, 1776 is the story of Americans in the ranks, men of every shape, size, and color, farmers, schoolteachers, shoemakers, no-accounts, and mere boys turned soldiers. And it is the story of the British commander, William Howe, and his highly disciplined redcoats who looked on their rebel foes with contempt and fought with a valor too little known. But it is the American commander-in-chief who stands foremost — Washington, who had never before led an army in battle.…

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7 ) The Johnstown Flood

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 7
  • Amazon: 4
  • LibraryThing: 9

A graphic account of the collapse of a poorly constructed dam and the resulting flood which killed 2,000 people and caused a nationwide scandal.(summary from ISBN 0671207148)At the end of the last century, Johnstown, Pennsylvania was a booming coal-and-steel town filled with hardworking families striving for a piece of the nation’s burgeoning industrial prosperity. In the mountains above Johnstown, an old earth dam had been hastily rebuilt to create a lake for an exclusive summer resort patronized by the tycoons of that same industrial prosperity, among them Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and Andrew Mellon. Despite repeated warnings of possible danger, nothing was done about the dam. Then came May 31, 1889, when the dam burst, sending a wall of water thundering down the mountain, smashing through Johnstown, and killing more than 2,000 people. It was a tragedy that became a national scandal.…

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6 ) The Path Between the Seas

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 3
  • Amazon: 7
  • LibraryThing: 5

Describes all the events and personalities involved in the monumental undertaking which precipitated revolution, scandal, economic crisis, and a new Central American republic.

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3 ) John Adams

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 9
  • Amazon: 1
  • LibraryThing: 2

In this powerful, epic biography, David McCullough unfolds the adventurous life-journey of John Adams, the brilliant, fiercely independent, often irascible, always honest Yankee patriot who spared nothing in his zeal for the American Revolution; who rose to become the second President of the United States and saved the country from blundering into an unnecessary war; who was learned beyond all but a few and regarded by some as “out of his senses”; and whose marriage to the wise and valiant Abigail Adams is one of the moving love stories in American history. This is history on a grand scale — a book about politics and war and social issues, but also about human nature, love, religious faith, virtue, ambition, friendship, and betrayal, and the far-reaching consequences of noble ideas. Above all, John Adams is an enthralling, often surprising story of one of the most important and fascinating Americans who ever lived.

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3 ) The Great Bridge

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 2
  • Amazon: 7
  • LibraryThing: 3

A detailed account of the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge providing background on its engineering history as well as the political and social climate of the late-nineteenth century.

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3 ) The Wright Brothers

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 4
  • Amazon: 4
  • LibraryThing: 4

On a winter day in 1903, in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, two unknown brothers from Ohio changed history. But it would take the world some time to believe what had happened: the age of flight had begun, with the first heavier-than-air, powered machine carrying a pilot. Who were these men and how was it that they achieved what they did?

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

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 1
  • Amazon: 2
  • LibraryThing: 6

McCullough reminds us of the core American values that define us, 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.

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1 ) Truman

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 5
  • Amazon: 2
  • LibraryThing: 1

The life of Harry S. Truman is one of the greatest of American stories, filled with vivid characters– Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bess Wallace Truman, George Marshall, Joe McCarthy, and Dean Acheson–and dramatic events. In this riveting biography, acclaimed historian David McCullough not only captures the man–a more complex, informed, and determined man than ever before imagined–but also the turbulent times in which he rose, boldly, to meet unprecedented challenges. The last president to serve as a living link between the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries, Truman’s story spans the raw world of the Missouri frontier, World War I, the powerful Pendergast machine of Kansas City, the legendary Whistle-Stop Campaign of 1948, and the decisions to drop the atomic bomb, confront Stalin at Potsdam, send troops to Korea, and fire General MacArthur. Drawing on newly discovered archival material and extensive interviews with Truman’s own family, friends, and Washington colleagues, McCullough tells the deeply moving story of the seemingly ordinary “man from Missouri” who was perhaps the most courageous president in our history.…

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David McCullough’s Best Books



David McCullough Review Website Bibliography Rankings

BookGoodreadsAmazonLibraryThingOveral Rank
Truman 521 1
The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For 126 2
John Adams 912 3
The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the … 273 3
The Wright Brothers 444 3
The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama … 375 6
1776 848 7
The Johnstown Flood 749 7
Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary … 597 9
Brave Companions 10910 10
The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris 11911 11
In the Dark Streets Shineth: A 1941 Christmas Eve Story 121212 12