David McCullough: The first book was The Johnstown Flood. I had been an English major in college. I had no anticipation that I was going to write history, but I stumbled upon a story that I thought was powerful, exciting, and very worth telling. And I taught myself, in effect, how to do the research, how to dig out the pieces, both large and small, of the past. I discovered in the process that — contrary to the notion that the past is a dead thing — that in fact, wherever you scratch the surface, you find life. And it was the life — the people and what happened to them — that was the pull for me. I had read a lot of history, read a lot of very good writers who had chosen to write history as a kind of other territory, almost like another country. The past is another country, another part of the universe.