(p. 10) When you wrote your first book, on the Johnstown flood, did you have a model in mind, a kind of storytelling you admired?
Walter Lord’s “A Night to Remember,” about the sinking of the Titanic, was the best book about a disaster I had ever read. But in an odd way I think I was more influenced at the time by the novels of Conrad Richter, and particularly his Ohio trilogy, “The Trees,” “The Fields” and “The Town,” in the extremely skillful way he evoked a sense of place.
. . .
If you had to name one book that made you who you are today, what would it be?
“The Elements of Style,” by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White. I read it first nearly 50 years ago and still turn to it as an ever reliable aid-to-navigation, and particularly White’s last chapter, with its reminders to “Revise and Rewrite” and “Be Clear.”
For the full interview, see:
“By the Book: David McCullough.” The New York Times Book Review (Sun., MAY 31, 2015): 10.
(Note: ellipsis added, bold in original. The bold questions are from an anonymous New York Times interviewer.)
(Note: the online version of the interview has the date MAY 28, 2015, and has the title “David McCullough: By the Book.”)
A wonderful book by McCullough, is:
McCullough, David. The Wright Brothers. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015.