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About Douglas G. Brinkley
Dr. Douglas Brinkley is the Katherine Tsanoff Brown Chair in Humanities and Professor of History at Rice University, a CNN Presidential Historian, and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. He has received seven honorary doctorates in American Studies. He works in many capacities in the world of public history, including for boards, museums, colleges and historical societies. Six of his books were named New York Times “Notable Books of the Year” and seven became New York Times bestsellers.
His The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, 2007, received the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Book Award. He was personally selected by Nancy Reagan to edit President Ronald Reagan’s presidential diaries (2011). His 2012 book Cronkite won Fordham University’s Ann M. Sperber Prize for outstanding biographies. His two-volume annotated The Nixon Tapes, 2016, won the Arthur S. Link – Warren F. Kuehl Prize. He received a Grammy Award in 2017 as co-producer of Presidential Suite: Eight Variations on Freedom. The New-York Historical Society selected Brinkley in 2017 as their official U.S. Presidential Historian. He is on the Board of Trustees at Brevard College and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library. He is a member of the Century Association, Council of Foreign Relations and James Madison Council of the Library of Congress.
He lives in Austin, Texas with his wife and three children.
Early Life and Education
Born on December 14, 1960 in Atlanta, Georgia. Brinkley’s mother, a high school English teacher, was a New Jersey native and his father, a Corning Glass Works executive, was from Pennsylvania. When Brinkley turned eight his family moved to Perrysburg, Ohio, As an undergraduate at The Ohio State University, he majored in U.S. history with a minor in Latin American studies, graduating with a B.A. in 1982. He published his first article in 1983 on the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners in America. In the summer of 1980 he spent a semester at Oxford University doing research on George Orwell. Accepting a fellowship to attend Georgetown University studying U.S. Diplomatic History, he earned his M.A. in 1983 and his PhD in 1989. During his student years he worked at used/antiquarian book stores including Second Story Books, Idle Times Books and the Phillip Collection.
Brinkley’s early teaching career included teaching positions at the U.S. Naval Academy, Princeton, and Hofstra. While living in Annapolis he began researching the life and times of former Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal.. At Hofstra University he spearheaded the American Odyssey course (taking students on numerous cross-country treks where they visited historic sites and met cultural icons in including Arthur Miller, Toni Morrison, John Kenneth Galbraith, Jimmy Carter, Morris Dees, Ken Kesey, and William S. Burroughs). This class was written about in The New York Times and dozens of other newspapers. Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love) wrote a ten-page profile about Brinkley in SPIN magazine after traveling around America with him on the natural-gas powered bus.
His 1993 book, The Majic Bus: An American Odyssey chronicled his first experience teaching this innovative on-the-road class, which became the progenitor to C-SPAN’s Yellow School Bus. The Associated Press noted that, “If you can’t tour the United States yourself, the next best thing is to go along with Douglas Brinkley aboard The Majic Bus.”
In 199x, Brinkley was appointed the Stephen E. Ambrose Professor of History and Director of the Eisenhower Center for American Studies at the University of New Orleans. During his tenure there he wrote two books with Ambrose: Rise to Globalism: American Foreign Policy Since 1938 (1998) and The Mississippi and the Making of a Nation: From the Louisiana Purchase to Today (2002).
In 2005 Brinkley was appointed Distinguished Professor of History and Director of the Roosevelt Center at Tulane University in New Orleans. Besides teaching classes on U.S. foreign policy he published important books on American culture. He edited Jack Kerouac’s diaries as Windblown World (2006) and Road Novels (2007). As literary executor of Hunter S. Thompson’s estate he edited two books of his letters Proud Highway (2012) and Fear and Loathing in America (2014). His work on civil rights includes writing Rosa Parks: A Life (2000) and his Preface for Congressman and civil rights leader John L. Lewis’ book Across the Bridge. Brinkley also wrote fourteen essays for American Heritage magazine from 1996 to 2012 on a wide-range of U.S. history topics such as Theodore Roosevelt’s love of nature, how Henry Ford’s Model T changed the world, Ronald Reagan’s small town Midwest beginnings, photographer Ansel Adams brilliantly capturing Alaska’s wilderness grandeur, and the story of unsung World War II boat builder Andrew Jackson Higgins. Click here to read the full articles.
Brinkley has also been actively involved in the environmental conservation and historic preservation community. Over the course of his conservation career, he has held board or leadership advisory roles in support of the American Museum of Natural History, Yellowstone Park Foundation, National Audubon Society and the Rockefeller-Roosevelt Conservation Roundtable. In 2015 he was awarded the Robin W. Winks Award for Enhancing Public Understanding of National Parks by the National Parks Conservation Association. In 2016 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service honored him with their annual Heritage Award.
Six of Dr. Brinkley’s books have been selected as The New York Times “Notable Books of the Year”: Dean Acheson: The Cold War Years (1992), Driven Patriot: The Life and Times of James Forrestal, with Townsend Hoopes (1992), The Unfinished Presidency: Jimmy Carter’s Journey Beyond the White House (1998), Wheels for the World: Henry Ford, His Company and a Century of Progress (2003), The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast (2006), and The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America (2010).
Seven of his most recent publications have become New York Times best-sellers: The Reagan Diaries, (2007), The Great Deluge(2006), The Boys of Pointe du Hoc: Ronald Reagan, D-Day and the U.S. Army 2nd Ranger Battalion (2005), Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War (2004) Voices of Valor: D-Day: June 6, 1944 with Ronald J. Drez (2004), The Wilderness Warrior (2010), Cronkite (2012), and Rightful Heritage: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Land of America (2016).
The Great Deluge (2006), was the recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy prize and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book award.
Brinkley won the Benjamin Franklin Award for The American Heritage History of the United States (1998) and the Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt Naval History Prize for Driven Patriot (1993). He was awarded the Business Week Book of the Year Award for Wheels for the World 2004) and was named 2004 Humanist of the Year by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.
For his work as an Americanist he has received honorary doctorates from numerous institutions of higher learning including Nova Southeastern University (Fort Lauderdale, Florida); Trinity College (Hartford, Connecticut); Hofstra University (Hempstead, New York); University of Maine (Orno, Maine); St Edwards University (Austin, Texas); and Allegheny College (Allegheny, Pennsylvania). In 2002 Brinkley received Ohio State University’s Humanities Alumni Award of Distinction.
A side passion of Brinkley’s has long been jazz, folk, and rock ‘n roll music. He won a Grammy Award (Best Jazz Ensemble) in 2007 for co-producing “Presidential Suite: Eight Variations on Freedom” and was nominated for a Grammy for “Gonzo”, his collaboration with Johnny Depp on the soundtrack for an Alex Gibney documentary on Hunter S. Thompson. Other Brinkley music projects include writing the liner-notes for Chuck Berry’s last CD titled Chuck and producing Fandango at the Wall with Arturo O’Farrill.
Brinkley is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Century Association, Society of American Historians, and James Madison Council of the Library of Congress. He is on the Board of Trustees at Brevard College and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library. CNN recently honored Brinkley as “a man who knows more about the presidency than any human being alive.”
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#1 New York Times Bestseller
“Reading these diaries, Americans will find it easier to understand how Reagan did what he did for so long . . . They paint a portrait of a president who was engaged by his job and had a healthy perspective on power.”
—Jon Meacham, Newsweek
During his two terms as the 40th president of the United States, Ronald Reagan kept a daily diary in which he recorded his innermost thoughts and observations on the extraordinary, the historic, and the routine occurrences of his presidency. To read these diaries—now compiled into one volume by noted historian Douglas Brinkley and filled with Reagan’s trademark wit, sharp intelligence, and humor—is to gain a unique understanding of one of our nation’s most fascinating leaders.
"Douglas Brinkley's one-volume history is a riveting narrative of unique people who have come to call themselves American. There is no dust on these pages as the author brilliantly tells our national story with skill and brevity."
In this rich and inspiring book, acclaimed historian Douglas Brinkley takes us on the incredible journey of the United States - a nation formed from a vast countryside on whose fringes thirteen small British colonies fought for their freedom, then established a democratic nation that spanned the continent, and went on to become a world power. This book will be treasured by anyone interested in the story of America.
In the span of five violent hours on August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina destroyed major Gulf Coast cities and flattened 150 miles of coastline. But it was only the first stage of a shocking triple tragedy. On the heels of one of the three strongest hurricanes ever to make landfall in the United States came the storm-surge flooding, which submerged a half-million homes—followed by the human tragedy of government mismanagement, which proved as cruel as the natural disaster itself.
In The Great Deluge, bestselling author Douglas Brinkley finds the true heroes of this unparalleled catastrophe, and lets the survivors tell their own stories, masterly allowing them to record the nightmare that was Katrina.
Douglas Brinkley presents the definitive, revealing biography of an American legend: renowned news anchor Walter Cronkite.
An acclaimed author and historian, Brinkley has drawn upon recently disclosed letters, diaries, and other artifacts at the recently opened Cronkite Archive to bring detail and depth to this deeply personal portrait.
He also interviewed nearly two hundred of Cronkite’s closest friends and colleagues, including Andy Rooney, Leslie Stahl, Barbara Walters, Dan Rather, Brian Williams, Les Moonves, Christiane Amanpour, Katie Couric, Bob Schieffer, Ted Turner, Jimmy Buffett, and Morley Safer, using their voices to instill dignity and humanity in this study of one of America’s most beloved and trusted public figures.
The acclaimed, award-winning historian—“America’s new past master” (Chicago Tribune)—examines the environmental legacy of FDR and the New Deal.
Douglas Brinkley’s The Wilderness Warrior celebrated Theodore Roosevelt’s spirit of outdoor exploration and bold vision to protect 234 million acres of wild America. Now, in Rightful Heritage, Brinkley turns his attention to the other indefatigable environmental leader—Teddy’s distant cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, chronicling his essential yet under-sung legacy as the founder of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and premier protector of America’s public lands. FDR built from scratch dozens of State Park systems and scenic roadways. Pristine landscapes such as the Great Smokies, the Everglades, Joshua Tree, the Olympics, Big Bend, Channel Islands, Mammoth Cave, and the slickrock wilderness of Utah were forever saved by his leadership.
Brinkley traces FDR’s love for the natural world from his youth exploring the Hudson River Valley and bird watching. As America’s president from 1933 to 1945, Roosevelt—consummate political strategist—established hundreds of federal migratory bird refuges and spearheaded the modern endangered species movement. He brilliantly positioned his conservation goals as economic policy to combat the severe unemployment of the Great Depression. During its nine-year existence, the CCC put nearly three million young men to work on conservation projects—including building trails in the national parks, pollution control, land restoration to combat the Dust Bowl, and planting over two billion trees.
Rightful Heritage is an epic chronicle that is both an irresistible portrait of FDR’s unrivaled passion and drive, and an indispensable analysis that skillfully illuminates the tension between business and nature—exploiting our natural resources and conserving them. Within the narrative are brilliant capsule biographies of such environmental warriors as Eleanor Roosevelt, Harold Ickes, and Rosalie Edge. Rightful Heritage is essential reading for everyone seeking to preserve our treasured landscapes as an American birthright.
“Douglas Brinkley has written a sweeping, blow-by-blow account of the struggle to preserve the last great remnants of American wilderness. An engaging appraisal of the crucial skirmishes in the battle over wild Alaska, The Quiet World is populated not only by the requisite luminaries like John Muir and Ansel Adams, but also by a cast of quirky, unexpected characters. The Quiet World is a fascinating and important read.” — Jon Krakauer
In this follow-up to his New York Times bestseller Wilderness Warrior, acclaimed historian Douglas Brinkley offers a riveting, expansive look at the past and present battle to preserve Alaska’s wilderness.
Brinkley explores the colorful diversity of Alaska’s wildlife, arrays the forces that have wreaked havoc on its primeval arctic refuge—from Klondike Gold Rush prospectors to environmental disasters like the Exxon-Valdez oil spill—and documents environmental heroes from Theodore Roosevelt to Dwight Eisenhower and beyond. Not merely a record of Alaska’s past, The Quiet World is a compelling call-to-arms for sustainability, conservationism, and conscientious environmental stewardship—a warning that the land once called Seward’s Folly may go down in history as America’s Greatest Mistake.
The first commercial, in-depth biography of the American-born Roman Catholic priest who may well be declared a saint. . . . “Delightful. . . . No magisterial biography emanating a suffocating aura of pomp and self-importance, this book is as low-key and as uplifting as Father Michael McGivney himself.”—Calgary Herald
“Father McGivney’s vision remains as relevant as ever in the changed circumstances of today’s Church and society.”—Pope John Paul II
In a time of discrimination and poverty for Catholics across America, Father Michael McGivney (1852-1890), began a legacy of hope that continues to this day. Called to action in 1882 by his sympathy for these suffering people, this dynamic yet tenderhearted man—the son of Irish immigrants— founded the Knights of Columbus, an organization that has saved countless families from destitution.
At heart, Father McGivney was the model of an American parish priest: Beloved by children, trusted by adults, and regarded as a “positive saint” by the elderly in his New Haven, CT, parish—a truly holy man whose life and works are still celebrated today.