Why Missouri Lobbyists Appreciate David McCullough

By Travis Brown, Missouri Lobbyist

This month, Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient David McCullough celebrated his 76th birthday in America.  Over the years, his distinguished career as author, journalist, & historian has enriched our personal libraries.

David McCullough might agree that sometimes you don’t choose the big issues; the big issues choose you.  He never set out to write about history, but rather started as a trainee for the emerging Sports Illustrated magazine.  Twelve years of editing and traveling finally convinced him that he could start writing on his own, after what Malcolm Gladwell would say were his 10,000 hours of necessary expertise.

Politicians, statesmen, political operatives, and lobbyists of all persuasions can easily find meaning in his work: through his meticulous details, his knack for storytelling, and his depth of analytical research.  For anyone seeking to understand the birth of our country, reading John Adams can add clarity to our forefather’s quote about applying yourself in your pursuits:

“Gentlemen, I feel a great difficulty how to act.  I am Vice President.  In this I am nothing, but I may be everything.” — John Adams, Chapter Eight.

In legislative affairs and state politics, timing is everything.  To many, reading non-fiction may not seem as engaging as book-gone-movie today (no disrespect to Harry Potter fans).  David’s books capture the attitudes to recreate the past in a way that most of us will only see in the future of a twitter-archived society.  Anchored conversations between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams in this book show us rare insights into the decisions made for our democracy, in a manner like reading a busy networker’s Facebook updates (except without the tweetpics or meetup announcements).

Missouri lobbyists and political pundits like me appreciate even more his epic Show-Me State work:  Truman.  As Steve Weinberg of the Kansas City Star points out, “this biography will stand out as the biography for which all other presidential biographies will be measured.”  As you turn his first page, you see the quote by Harry S. Truman:

“We can never tell what is in store for us.”

In my office, I have an old newspaper the day that our Missouri farmboy became President.  For anyone that has never visited his Presidential Library, I highly recommend swinging by off Interstate 70 in Independence, MO.  The story of Truman gives Missourians a sense of the good fortune, political struggles, moral decisions, and character under the heavy weights of power that Harry must have endured.

This work reminds us that our challenges and burdens are not unique to today’s political poll-frenzied environment.  This biography is a great resource when the only friend you may have in Washington, DC might be your dog.  Thanks to you David McCullough, and happy birthday.  We, the modern day legislative gladiators of future American history, salute you.