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David Willis McCullough Books In Order

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Publication Order of Ziza Todd Books

Think on Death (1991)Description / Buy at Amazon
Point No-Point (1993)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Great Detectives (1984)Description / Buy at Amazon
American Childhoods (1987)Description / Buy at Amazon
Three Score and Ten (1996)Description / Buy at Amazon
Chronicles of the Barbarians (1998)Description / Buy at Amazon
Wars Of The Irish Kings (2000)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Unending Mystery A Journey Through Labyrinths And Mazes (2004)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

City Sleuths and Tough Guys(1989)Description / Buy at Amazon

David Willis McCullough was born in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania just southwest of Pittsburgh on the second day of October in 1937 to parents Willis and Dorothy McCullough. He later married Frances Monson who shared his passion for literature and was an accomplished editor and author herself. They said their I do’s on November 20, 1965 and had two beautiful children, Benjamin and Katherine.

David McCullough attended the University of Rochester where he graduated in 1959 after which he attended Stanford University from 1959 to 1960. He received the Books-across-the-Sea Ambassador of Honor Award from the English-Speaking Union in 1984 for his work on “And How It Got that Way.

His first publication came in the form of The Unending Mystery: A Journey Through Labyrinths and Mazes. In this short, fictional and somewhat sketchy historical novel McCullough gets you caught in the alluring Crete labyrinth. He describes that a labyrinth differs from a maze in that it uses an uninterrupted path that leads to a centre whereas a maze contains countless forks that makes it the one wandering it responsible to find the exit successfully. McCullough takes you to the start of the labyrinth where the mythological Cretan monster the Minotaur lurked, through to the Christianized versions of the labyrinth in European cathedrals like Chartres. He gives various interpretations of the myth surrounding the Minotaur from Homer to Robert Graves. He also suggests that the original labyrinth could have been formed as a result of an erotic dance. He continues the mystery by including several stone built, outdoor labyrinths throughout Europe, spending plenty of time on their design and lore. He further touches on the origins of mazes and how they influenced the popular culture of knot gardens and hedged mazes we know today. He ends with a brief inscription on how mazes are used in modern religions and spends some time on well known maze designers.

Things became more serious with his next book, Wars of the Irish Kings: A Thousand Years of Struggle, from the Age of Myths through the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. McCullough had the following to say about the contents of this book, “…early medieval Ireland sounds like a somewhat crazed Wisconsin, in which every dairy farm is an armed camp at perpetual war with its neighbours, and every farmer claims he is a king.”

In this book McCullough tries to cover as much of Ireland’s history as can be crammed between two covers. He starts in ancient times describing the old warriors and the battles they fought, a time when history and storytelling were one and the same into later years when history was instead written by the victor. McCullough is incredibly thorough here and covers everything from Viking raids, foreign invasions, family feuds, tribal conflicts, uprisings against England and even the rivalries between Irish kingdoms. He takes special care in delving into the people responsible for shaping history during those times. People like Robert the Bruce, Hugh O’Donnell, Elizabeth I, Brian Boru and Fin MacCool. These were the people who not only won great battles and ruled valiantly but also played their parts in shaping the very identity of Ireland. This book shows the origin of Ireland, through its millennia of struggles to what we know today.

Although this is considered one of Mcullough’s most popular works, reader reviews do not paint a particularly bright picture. Many readers state that although the information was interesting, the way the book was put together made it simply too difficult to comprehend. Even those of Irish descent who spend their leisure time learning of their history could only get through sections of this book while skipping the rest. One was even quoted in saying that she’d prefer the complexities of Shakespeare. Also, as the book is set as a collection of firsthand accounts, the accuracy of the information has been put in question.

Another historical account from McCullough is Chronicles of the Barbarians: Firsthand Accounts of Pillage & Conquest from the Ancient World to the Fall of Constantinople. Here it shows just how broad McCullough’s knowledge of ancient history extends as he goes through the accounts of the likes of Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan among others who were all famed for their merciless battles in foreign lands. This was once again a collection of firsthand accounts quoting scholars such as Herodotus, who wrote unbiased accounts of history as they occurred, to the great emperor Julius Caesar who covers the invasion of Britain. He also uses the words of lesser men like Norman, a lowly soldier in the crusades. The firsthand accounts used in this book seem to have been received better than before and some readers praised the use of illustrations and maps that completed this book. This collection should captivate history buffs and followers of military excellence alike.

McCullough had further successes with novels when he published Think on Death. This wasn’t a particularly long read but readers were captivated from start to finish and were then rewarded with a sequel when Point No-Point was published in 1992. The characters in this story were created superbly and made the story very believable. It follows the story of Naomi Quick whose husband disappears from the community she worked at after which she receives a note informing her that her husband will be returning home at a set date and time. This prompts her return to her home town after more than two decades in search of him. Upon arrival she’s met by a strange group who are erecting a theme park based on an old cult. When attending the memorial service of a family member she expects to find her husband which she does but not in a manner she envisioned. A set of human bones found in a bedroom turns out to belong to her husband and she and a minister named Ziza Todd work together to unlock the mysteries of his murder.

Great Detectives: A Century of the Best Mysteries from England and America, follows another path yet again. This book is a collection of short stories and novels by great authors who excelled in writing enthralling detective stories. It includes work from authors such as Dorothy Sayers, Raymond Chandler, Rex Stout and even includes a never before published short story, The Murder of Santa Clause, written by P.D. James.

Book Series In Order » Authors » David Willis McCullough

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