McCullough, David Willis 1937–

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McCULLOUGH, David Willis 1937–

PERSONAL:

Born October 2, 1937, in Canonsburg, PA; son of Willis L. and Dorothy McCullough; married Frances Monson (an editor and writer), November 20, 1965; children: Benjamin, Katherine. Education: University of Rochester, B.A., 1959; attended Stanford University, 1959-60.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Hastings-on-Hudson, NY.

CAREER:

Author. Book-of-the-Month Club, member of editorial department, 1964-80, member of editorial board, 1980-95.

MEMBER:

PEN, Authors Guild, Mystery Writers of America, Association for Gravestone Studies, Century Association.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Books-across-the-Sea Ambassador of Honor Award, English-Speaking Union, 1984, for Brooklyn … and How It Got that Way; Washington Irving Book Selection, Westchester Library Association, 1993, for Think on Death: A Hudson Valley Mystery.

WRITINGS:

McCullough's Brief Lives: Selected "Eye on Books"Interviews, Book-of-the-Month Club (New York, NY), 1980, expanded edition published as People, Books, and Book People, Harmony Books (New York, NY), 1981.

Brooklyn … and How It Got that Way, photographs by Jim Kalett, Dial (New York, NY), 1983.

(Editor) Great Detectives: A Century of the Best Mysteries from England and America, Pantheon (New York, NY), 1984.

(Editor) American Childhoods: An Anthology, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1987.

(Editor) City Sleuths and Tough Guys: Crime Stories from Poe to the Present, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1989.

Think on Death: A Hudson Valley Mystery, Viking (New York, NY), 1991.

Point No-Point: A Ziza Todd Mystery (sequel to Think on Death), Viking (New York, NY), 1992.

Three Score and Ten: A History of Christ School Arden, North Carolina, 1900-1970, WorldComm (Alexander, NC), 1996.

(Editor) Chronicles of the Barbarians: Eyewitness Accounts of Pillage and Conquest from the Ancient World to the Fall of Constantinople, Times Books (New York, NY), 1998.

(Editor) Wars of the Irish Kings: A Thousand Years of Struggle from the Age of Myth through the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, Crown (New York, NY), 2000.

The Unending Mystery: A Journey through Labyrinths and Mazes, Pantheon Books (New York, NY), 2004.

Contributor of introductions to The Manchurian Candidate, by Richard Condon, Book-of-the-Month Club, 1988, and The Old Eagle-Nester: The Lost Legends of the Catskills, by Doris W. Brooks, Black Dome Press, 1992.

SIDELIGHTS:

A longtime editor for the Book-of-the-MonthClub, David Willis McCullough has compiled anthologies and written histories and a mystery series. His People, Books, and Book People is a collection of short interviews with ninety authors whose books were marketed through the Book-of-the-Month Club. The interviews originally appeared in the Book-of-the-Month Club News "Eye on Books" column. "This is not a book to inspire adulation—either of interviewees or interviewer," maintained Marilyn Murray Willis in the Los Angeles Times Book Review. "What the reader does feel, however, is a quiet sense of admiration for the creative process. Reading McCullough's book is like taking a stroll with someone who has accomplished what you'd like to be able to do. The big and small legends of the literary world appear delightfully approachable."

Brooklyn … and How It Got that Way is an illustrated look at the history of the New York borough. "McCullough has captured a lot of it [the Brooklyn story] in his sparklingly written, soundly researched account," reported Frances A. Koestler in the Washington Post Book World. "As with most local histories, it's the raisins and not the bran that make this book worth reading," remarked Voice Literary Supplement critic Bill McKibben. McCullough's topics include seventeenth-century Brooklyn and its founder, Henry Hudson, the beginnings of the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team, local celebrities, the development of Coney Island, the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, and the ghettoization of the borough.

McCullough also has compiled an anthology of crime stories, City Sleuths and Tough Guys: Crime Stories from Poe to the Present, which begins with selections from nineteenth-century writers and provides representative samples from more recent masters. He further embraced the detective genre with a pair of his own mysteries, Think on Death: A Hudson Valley Mystery and Point No-Point: A Ziza Todd Mystery, both of which are set in New York and feature Ziza Todd, a young Presbyterian minister. The plot of Think on Death revolves around the revelation of family secrets in a nineteenth-century Utopian community and a long-lost heir to a fortune. In her review of Think on Death in the New York Times Book Review, Marilyn Stasio commented that "cool, clear and mighty refreshing to encounter in a first novel, David Willis McCullough's fluid prose might have tumbled down the slopes of the Catskill Mountains." In Point No-Point, Ziza Todd returns to solve the mystery of a high school student's death on the Hudson River waterfront.

McCullough is editor of Chronicles of the Barbarians: Eyewitness Accounts of Pillage and Conquest from the Ancient World to the Fall of Constantinople, in which he cites Greek and Roman authors, including Livy, Polybius, Tacitus, and Julius Caesar, and offers insights into the conquests of figures such as Genghis Khan. His Wars of the Irish Kings: A Thousand Years of Struggle from the Age of Myth through the Reign of Queen Elizabeth is a collection of stories, legends, and myths that provide a general history of Ireland until 1601, when the kings lost their power. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called Wars of the Irish Kings "carefully introduced, bite-sized portions of classic Irish narratives." The actual events were documented by monks, and St. Patrick, Finn MacCool, and Cuchulain are among the heroes of Irish literature who are depicted in their fights against the invading Vikings, Scots, and British. "The Irish love of storytelling and a real history of resistance to conquerors are woven into these lushly told tales," wrote Booklist reviewer Vanessa Bush.

McCullough examines the puzzling world of labyrinths and mazes in his 2004 title, The Unending Mystery: A Journey through Labyrinths and Mazes. The author first notes the difference between the two: A labyrinth is a continuous if circuitous path to a center, while a maze is a conscious puzzle with blocked passages at points that demand choices to be made. The author examines examples of both from ancient times to the modern; from Cretan and Etruscan, to those in English country houses and even in Brooklyn. He also looks at labyrinths and mazes made of materials from corn to glass to shrubbery, and investigates the mythology surrounding them. A Kirkus Reviews critic found The Unending Mystery a "good-humored look" at the subject, while Booklist contributor Gilbert Taylor similarly described the book as a "leisurely chronological ramble through the designs and meanings invested in labyrinths."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

periodicals

Booklist, November 15, 2000, Vanessa Bush, review of Wars of the Irish Kings: A Thousand Years of Struggle from the Age of Myth through the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, p. 593.

Christian Science Monitor, December 12, 1989, Catherine Foster, review of City Sleuths and Tough Guys: Crime Stories from Poe to the Present, p. 13; October 1, 2004, Gilbert Taylor, review of The Unending Mystery: A Journey through Labyrinths and Mazes, p. 287.

Globe and Mail (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), March 6, 1999, review of Chronicles of the Barbarians: Eyewitness Accounts of Pillage and Conquest from the Ancient World to the Fall of Constantinople, p. D11.

Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2000, review of Wars of the Irish Kings, p. 1468; August 15, 2004, review of The Unending Mystery, p. 793.

Library Journal, January, 1991, Rex E. Klett, review of Think on Death: A Hudson Valley Mystery, p. 159; February 15, 1999, review of Chronicles of the Barbarians, p. 164.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, April 26, 1981, Marilyn Murray Willis, review of People, Books, and Book People.

Michigan Quarterly Review, spring, 1991, James Gindin, review of City Sleuths and Tough Guys, p. 350.

New York Times Book Review, January 20, 1991, Marilyn Stasio, review of Think on Death, p. 27; April 5, 1992, Marilyn Stasio, review of Point No-Point: A Ziza Todd Mystery, p. 14.

Psychology Today, November-December, 2004, review of The Unending Mystery, p. 37.

Publishers Weekly, October 6, 1989, Sybil Steinberg, review of City Sleuths and Tough Guys, p. 82; October 26, 1990, Sybil Steinberg, review of Think on Death, p. 58; December 20, 1991, review of Point No-Point, p. 67; November 30, 1998, review of Chronicles of the Barbarians, p. 63.

School Library Journal, April, 1985, Mary T. Gerrity, review of Great Detectives: A Century of the Best Mysteries from England and America, p. 105; May, 1990, Dorcas Hand, review of City Sleuths and Tough Guys, p. 138.

Voice Literary Supplement, May, 1983, Bill McKibben, review of Brooklyn … and How It Got that Way.

Washington Post Book World, May 23, 1983, Frances A. Koestler, review of Brooklyn … and How It Got that Way.

online

David Willis McCullough Home Page,http://www.davidwillismccullough.com (May 19, 2006).*

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McCullough, David Willis 1937–

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