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Douglas Brinkley


Douglas Brinkley

Douglas Brinkley
Douglas Brinkley in April 2007
Born (1960-12-14) December 14, 1960
Occupation Historian
Nationality American
Genre Nonfiction

Douglas Brinkley (born December 14, 1960) is an American author, professor of history at Rice University and a fellow at the James Baker Institute for Public Policy. Brinkley is the history commentator for CBS News and a contributing editor to the magazines Vanity Fair[1] and American Heritage.[2] A public spokesperson on conservation issues, Brinkley serves as an editor at Audubon Magazine. He joined the faculty of Rice University as a professor of history in 2007.[3]


  • Early life and education 1
  • Career 2
    • Congressional hearing 2.1
  • Critical reception 3
  • Honors 4
  • Personal life 5
  • Works 6
    • Original works 6.1
    • As editor 6.2
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Early life and education

Brinkley was born in Hofstra University, the University of New Orleans, Tulane University, and Rice University. He received an honorary doctorate for his contributions to American letters from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.[4]


During the early 1990s, Brinkley taught American Arts and Politics for Hofstra aboard the Majic Bus, a roving transcontinental classroom, from which emerged the book, The Majic Bus: An American Odyssey (1993). In 1993, he left Hofstra to teach at the University of New Orleans, where he taught the class again using two natural-gas fueled buses. According to the Associated Press, "...if you can't tour the United States yourself, the next best thing is to go along with Douglas Brinkley aboard The Majic Bus."[5]

Brinkley worked closely with his mentor, historian Stephen E. Ambrose, then director of the Eisenhower Center for American Studies at the University of New Orleans. Ambrose chose Brinkley to become director of the Eisenhower Center, a post he held for five years before moving to Tulane University.

Brinkley’s first book was Jean Monnet: The Path to European Unity (1992). The publication of Dean Acheson: The Cold War Years (1992) brought Brinkley popular acclaim. He then co-edited a monograph series with Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. and William vanden Heuvel in the 1990s. Brinkley also edited a volume on Dean Acheson and the Making of US Foreign Policy with Paul H. Nitze (1993).

Brinkley is the literary executor for his late friend, the journalist and author Hunter S. Thompson. He is also the editor of a three-volume collection of Thompson's letters. Brinkley is also the authorized biographer for Beat generation author Jack Kerouac, having edited Kerouac's diaries as Windblown World (2004).

He has also written profiles of popular writers, Kurt Vonnegut,[6] Norman Mailer, and Ken Kesey for Rolling Stone magazine. In 2009, Brinkley interviewed Bob Dylan in Paris and Amsterdam for a Rolling Stone cover story.[7]

In 2004, Brinkley released Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War, about U.S. Senator John Kerry's military service and anti-war activism during the Vietnam War. The 2004 documentary movie, "Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry," is loosely based on Brinkley's book.[8] Brinkley also wrote the Atlantic Monthly cover story of December 2003 on Kerry.[9]

Brinkley's book The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast is a record of the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf Coast. The book won the 2007 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award and was a Los Angeles Times book prize finalist. He also served as the primary historian for Spike Lee's documentary about Hurricane Katrina, When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts. Critic Nancy Franklin in The New Yorker noted that Brinkley made up a "large part" of the film's "conscience."[10]

Brinkley's biography of Walter Cronkite, Cronkite was published in 2012.[11] It was also selected as a Washington Post Book of the Year.

Brinkley and Johnny Depp were nominated for a Grammy for their co-authoring of the liner notes to the documentary: Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.[12] He also co-edited with Johnny Depp the long lost novel of Woody Guthrie titled House of Earth.[13]

Congressional hearing

On November 18, 2011, during his testimony before a Congressional hearing on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Brinkley had a heated exchange with Rep. Don Young. Young, who had not been present during Brinkley’s testimony, nonetheless characterized Brinkley's testimony as "garbage" and addressed Brinkley as "Dr. Rice." In response, Brinkley stated, "It's Dr. Brinkley. Rice is a university. I know you went to Yuba College and couldn't graduate." Brinkley also noted that Young's comments were made even though Young had not been present during his testimony.[14]

Critical reception

Stephen Ambrose, Brinkley's mentor at the University of New Orleans, called Brinkley "the best of the new generation of American historians."[15] Brinkley and Ambrose had co-authored three books.[16] Patrick Reardon of the Chicago Tribune called Brinkley America's "new past master."[17] In addition during the 2013 inauguration coverage CNN referred to Mr. Brinkley as ""a man who knows more about the presidency than just about any human being alive." [18] In contrast in 2006, historian Wilfred McClay in the New York Sun appraised Brinkley's scholarship as one that has failed to "put forward a single memorable idea, a single original analysis, or a single lapidary phrase."[19]


  • Cronkite (2012), a biography of Walter Cronkite, received the Ann M. Sperber Biography Award for 2013.[20]
  • Dr. Brinkley received an honorary doctorate at Hofstra University’s May 2012 graduate commencement ceremony.[21]

Personal life

Brinkley lives in Austin, Texas. He and his wife Anne have three children, Johnny, Benton, and Cassady. He is a member of the Century Association, the Council on Foreign Relations and Society of American Historians.


Original works

  • Driven Patriot: The Life and Times of James Forrestal (1992). With Townsend Hoopes
  • Dean Acheson: The Cold War Years, 1953-71 (1992)
  • The Majic Bus: An American Odyssey (1993) It describes his experiences taking groups of college students on tours of historic sites around the U.S. and at least partly inspired the C-SPAN Bus program
  • Rise to Globalism: American Foreign Policy since 1938 (1997), New York: Penguin Books ISBN 0-14-026831-6 with Stephen Ambrose
  • FDR and the Creation of the U.N. (1997) With Townsend Hoopes
  • American Heritage History of the United States (1998)
  • The Unfinished Presidency: Jimmy Carter's Journey Beyond the White House (1999)
  • Witness to America (1999) With Stephen Ambrose, ISBN 9780062716118; 2010: ISBN 0061990280
  • Rosa Parks (2000)
  • The Mississippi and the Making of a Nation: From the Louisiana Purchase to Today (2002) With Stephen Ambrose, ISBN 0792269136
  • Wheels for the World: Henry Ford, His Company, and A Century of Progress, 1903-2003 (2003)
  • Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War (2004)
  • Voices of Valor : D-Day, June 6, 1944 (2004) With Ronald J. Drez
  • The World War II Memorial: A Grateful Nation Remembers (2004)
  • The Boys of Pointe du Hoc: Ronald Reagan, D-Day, and the U.S. Army 2nd Ranger Battalion (2005)
  • Parish Priest: Father Michael McGivney and American Catholicism (2006) with Julie M. Fenster
  • The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast (2006)
  • Gerald R. Ford (2007)
  • The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America (2009)
  • The Quiet World: Saving Alaska's Wilderness Kingdom, 1879-1960 (2011)
  • Cronkite (2012)
  • Forester-In-Chief: Franklin D. Roosevelt, the CCC and Wild America (Projected: 2015)[22]
  • Silent Spring Revolution: John F. Kennedy, Rachel Carson, Stewart Udall, and the Environmental Movement, 1961-1964 (Projected: 2016)

As editor

  • The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967 (1997), ed. with Hunter S. Thompson
  • Fear and Loathing in America: the Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist, 1968-1976 (2000) ed. with Hunter S. Thompson
  • Windblown World: The Journals of Jack Kerouac, 1947-1954 (2004) ed.
  • The Reagan Diaries (2007) ed.
  • Jack Kerouac Road Novels 1957-1960 (2007) ed.


  1. ^ Brinkley's page @ HarperCollins Publishers
  2. ^ American HeritageBrinkley's author page and articles at .
  3. ^ - By Franz Brotzen - Rice University - 17 May 2007"Author, historian Douglas Brinkley to join Rice faculty"
  4. ^ Biography of Douglas Brinkley at the site for The Great Deluge (2006)
  5. ^ Joy Stilley (23 May 1993). "Trip results in more than travel book". Bowling Green Daily News. Retrieved 14 Feb 2011. 
  6. ^ Rolling Stone Profile of Kurt Vonnegut
  7. ^ Bob Dylan's America by Douglas Brinkley, Rolling Stone, Issue 1078, May 14, 2009.
  8. ^ "Going Upriver: Synopsis". Archived from the original on 1 Oct 2004. Retrieved 14 Feb 2011. 
  9. ^ Douglas Brinkley (December 2003). "Tour Of Duty". The Atlantic. 
  10. ^ Nancy Franklin, "Unnatural Disasters," The New Yorker, vol. 86, no. 25 (August 30, 2010), pp. 82-83.
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Historian gets into it with Don Young during Congressional hearing". Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. November 19, 2011. Retrieved November 19, 2011. 
  15. ^ Institute - University at Albany, SUNY - Albany.eduWritersBrinkley @ New York State
  16. ^ Douglas Brinkley curriculum vita
  17. ^ , September 27, 2001Chicago TribunePatrick T. Reardon, "The New Past Master,"
  18. ^ CNN "Piers Morgan", January 20, 2013
  19. ^ Wilfred M. McClay, "A Flood of Words on Katrina," The New York Sun, May 15, 2006, accessed June 25, 2012.
  20. ^
  21. ^ Hofstra University Announces 2012 Spring Commencement Activities and Speakers
  22. ^

External links

  • Douglas Brinkley faculty page at Rice University
  • Douglas Brinkley author page at HarperCollins
  • Douglas Brinkley author page and articles at American Heritage.
  • interview with BrinkleyBooknotes on The Majic Bus: An American Odyssey, 1993
  • interview with BrinkleyIn DepthC-SPAN , 2003
  • part 1, interview with BrinkleyQ&AC-SPAN about The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America, 2009
  • part 2, interview with BrinkleyQ&AC-SPAN about The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America, 2009
  • interview with Brinkley and Richard Norton SmithQ&AC-SPAN , April 25, 2010
  • interview with Brinkley and Richard Norton SmithQ&AC-SPAN , October 31, 2010
  • interview with BrinkleyQ&AC-SPAN about Cronkite, 2012
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