David McCullough has lots to celebrate. He turned 70 on July 7—the same day that his bestselling biography, John Adams, marked 52 weeks on the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list. The book won the Pulitzer for history this year, the second time for McCullough, who also won it in 1992 for Truman. John Adams turned out to be the more popular subject at retail. Simon & Schuster reports more than 1.5 million copies in print after 35 trips to press; the publisher claims that number is the highest ever achieved by any historical biography. Adams hit one million copies in print within three months of publication; Truman sold about 630,000 copies in its first six months. PW could not come up with another hardcover historical biography that surpassed the Adams figure, but welcomes other pundits with further information. It's fitting that this watershed coincides with July 4th—John Adams died 176 years ago at age 91 on July 4, 1826 (Thomas Jefferson died that same day). The book's current strong performance—it's back in the top 10—is due to several factors, according to S&S: McCullough's appearance on the Today show prior to Father's Day and the fact that patriotism and historical wisdom is more popular than ever since September 11; plus, the book is also a popular graduation gift. The author has given dozens of commencement speeches over the years (three this year) and has amassed 34 honorary degrees.
With reporting by Dick Donahue