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Summary

From Alexander von Humboldt to Charles and Anne Lindbergh, these are stories of people of great vision and daring whose achievements continue to inspire us today, brilliantly told by master historian David McCullough.

The best-selling author of Truman and John Adams, David McCullough has written profiles of exceptional men and women past and present who have not only shaped the course of history or changed how we see the world but whose stories express much that is timeless about the human condition.

Here are Alexander von Humboldt, whose epic explorations of South America surpassed the Lewis and Clark expedition; Harriet Beecher Stowe, "the little woman who made the big war”; Frederic Remington; the extraordinary Louis Agassiz of Harvard; Charles and Anne Lindbergh, and their fellow long-distance pilots Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and Beryl Markham; Harry Caudill, the Kentucky lawyer who awakened the nation to the tragedy of Appalachia; and David Plowden, a present-day photographer of vanishing America.

Different as they are from each other, McCullough's subjects have in common a rare vitality and sense of purpose. These are brave companions: to each other, to David McCullough, and to the reader, for with rare storytelling ability McCullough brings us into the times they knew and their very uncommon lives.

©1992 David McCullough (P)2015 Simon & Schuster

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Profile Image for Randall
  • Randall
  • 28-01-19

I USUALLY LOVE THIS GUY

Like I said, I usually love McCullough's work but... I have listened to almost
everything in the catalog and truly loved, John Adams, 1776,
The Path Between 2 Seas, (and several more). But wasn't real happy with
Mornings on Horseback and am very unhappy with this "Brave Companions".
The first few chapters were historically interesting , but then it started downhill.
Every chapter seem more boring than the last. It seemed like McCullough
started rambling aimlessly, and then got political. Going so far to say JFK was the
only president to study history (sorry I paraphrased that). I always grow tired
of the Kennedy worship.
I like hearing the authors own voice (in small amounts), but would much rather have heard
Edward Hermann again.

121 people found this helpful

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  • Rick
  • 24-06-17

Blah! Blah! Blah!

I expected more from David McCullough as this is far from his finest work. He chose a bunch of nobodies, who didn't really do a whole lot. With the exception of Roosevelt, and Lindbergh his list of notables is pathetic at best, and darn near put me to sleep. I was bored to tears! And to make the story even harder to stomach, it sounded as though McCullough had marbles in his mouth while he read the book. I'm not sure how others were able to give this title such high marks. I found it nothing short of painful.

45 people found this helpful

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  • JFH
  • 12-05-17

Disappointing and poorly read rehash

This a reading of some 15 articles by McCullough, many of them quite old and uninteresting today. Perhaps 5 are worth listening to, involving interesting forgotten figures. I found myself frequently hitting fast forward. To make matters worse, McCullough's once gray voice has faded to a mumble.

36 people found this helpful

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  • Jon Z
  • 02-10-15

Hard to listen to this one, sorry to say

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

I had high hopes, given other very good work by this author. Found it hard to listen to. Some very interesting characters, but really hard to focus, given the performance.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

There really wasn't one.

What didn’t you like about David McCullough’s performance?

His voice.

Could you see Brave Companions being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

Absolute NOT!

36 people found this helpful

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  • A. Clive King
  • 30-06-17

So boring

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

people who like lists of people and subjects they will never hear about again!

What could David McCullough have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

put his pen down

What didn’t you like about David McCullough’s performance?

Just boring....

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Severe disappointment

35 people found this helpful

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  • Ms.
  • 21-05-18

Disjointed

I have liked all the other McCullough books I have read but not this one. In fact, I skipped big portions of it. It is a disjointed collection of separate chapters with little connection. I ended up skipping many chapters if I did not find them interesting since they were not connected.

33 people found this helpful

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  • James
  • 02-10-17

Just could not get into it

I was excited to get yet another David McCullough book, especially one which he narrates himself. I tried on multiple sittings to listen to it, but it was nothing like his other books. I found it extremely boring. It's such a shame since I have found his other works to be fantastic.

33 people found this helpful

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  • Bradley W.
  • 23-10-15

The Voice of American History

Where does Brave Companions rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Any book written by Mr. McCullough would rank high on my list of books, but another unabridged edition read in its entirety by him ranks in top of my list. The book is a collection of shorter essays and stories about many of the figures that feature in some of his larger works but beyond that it is the story of many prominent figures in our American Story that many of us as the author states probably know little to nothing about.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Brave Companions?

McCullough's ability to bring to life the vivid story of each of his Companion's lives in stunning detail. You feel that you are sitting right next to many of them (in fact in some of the contemporary figures you are!) as he shares their lives and accomplishments. The telling of the adventures of Alexander von Humboldt and the biography of Frederic Remington would have to be two of my favorite chapters.

What does David McCullough bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

His voice! Dating back over 25 years when I first heard his narration of the the Ken Burns Civil War series I have absolutely been captivated by his voice. To me he could read a Calculus textbook and I would be enthralled. He is in my mind the voice of American History. He is able to transform his words into a warm, heartfelt and captivating story all the while keeping you invested. In invite you to close your eyes and see the subject through his eyes, his words and his voice. You can hear the absolute admiration for his subjects, the fascination of not just their accomplishment but their extraordinary or even sometimes ordinary lives. I hope that he will continue to narrate more of his past work.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The Chapter called "Recommended Itinerary" which is a copy of an commencement speech given to a college in the middle 1980's. In it he encourage these young minds to explore not only their world but more importantly to appreciate the United States that they live in to appreciate the extraordinary historical times we are living in. Though over 30 years old I think the message he is trying to convey still holds significance.

Any additional comments?

This book was originally published in 1991 and it clearly a telling of origin of many of his early and later works on Roosevelt, Truman, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Panama Canal. Mr McCullough takes you with him as in insider into his research of this individuals that became the subject for his later award winning books but as previously states he brings to light many subject who might have been simply footnotes in your High School History Texts but should be considered chapters to themselves for their amazing contribution to our American Story. I cannot recommend this book enough not only for his wonderful voice but also for his story telling ability.

22 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 13-12-17

Okay

Some interesting stories, but the liberal bent is hard to overlook. I feel there was too much of the authors opinion and not enough of individual's correspondence to shape the content.

17 people found this helpful

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  • J&ML
  • 10-09-16

There are better books to read by David McCullough

I have read many of David McCullough books and I love the way he writes but this is a relatively old book (1991) and many of the chapters are out of date. The reason is that most of the chapters are NOT stories of lesser known but interesting Americans as the description suggests. Instead the subjects are a collection of his thoughts on Congress, history, the 20th century and friends that he admires, etc. It sounds like a collection of pieces that he had written 30-50 years ago. Some of them were interesting but some were boring and of little interest. I suggest that you will be better served to read some of his other books.

16 people found this helpful