Brave Companions: Portraits in History
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|Preceded by||Mornings on Horseback|
The book consists of previously published essays, most of which are biographical portraits of a specific historical figure or group of figures. It is divided into five sections.
"Journey to the Top of the World" is a portrait of German scientist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt, with particular attention paid to the expedition to Latin America he undertook in 1799-1804 with Aimé Bonpland.
II. The Real West
"Steam Road to El Dorado" is about the construction of the original Panama Railway in the 1850s.
"The Treasure from the Carpentry Shop" concerns the rediscovery of the original plans for the Brooklyn Bridge in 1969.
IV. Figures in a Landscape
In this section, McCullough profiles individuals he is acquainted with personally.
"The Lonely War of a Good Angry Man", written in 1969, concerns the destructive environmental impact of strip mining in eastern Kentucky, and profiles Harry M. Caudill, local author and anti-strip mining political activist.
V. On We Go
"Washington on the Potomac" is a personal tribute to the city of Washington, DC, where McCullough lived for many years.
"Extraordinary Times", written in 1986, is a look back at the fifty years of world history since 1936.
"Recommended Itinerary" is an address McCullough gave to the 1986 graduating class of Middlebury College, in which he urged graduates to travel abroad to gain a better appreciation of the United States, and to study history in order to gain a better appreciation of their own time.
"Simon Willard's Clock" is an essay concerning the history of the United States Congress, in which McCullough writes that legislators must have a sense of their own institution's history.
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- Review of Brave Companions on enotes.com