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About Douglas G. Brinkley
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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As the fiftieth anniversary of the first lunar landing approaches, the award winning historian and perennial New York Times bestselling author takes a fresh look at the space program, President John F. Kennedy’s inspiring challenge, and America’s race to the moon.
“We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win.”—President John F. Kennedy
On May 25, 1961, JFK made an astonishing announcement: his goal of putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade. In this engrossing, fast-paced epic, Douglas Brinkley returns to the 1960s to recreate one of the most exciting and ambitious achievements in the history of humankind. American Moonshot brings together the extraordinary political, cultural, and scientific factors that fueled the birth and development of NASA and the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo projects, which shot the United States to victory in the space race against the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War.
Drawing on new primary source material and major interviews with many of the surviving figures who were key to America’s success, Brinkley brings this fascinating history to life as never before. American Moonshot is a portrait of the brilliant men and women who made this giant leap possible, the technology that enabled us to propel men beyond earth’s orbit to the moon and return them safely, and the geopolitical tensions that spurred Kennedy to commit himself fully to this audacious dream. Brinkley’s ensemble cast of New Frontier characters include rocketeer Wernher von Braun, astronaut John Glenn and space booster Lyndon Johnson.
A vivid and enthralling chronicle of one of the most thrilling, hopeful, and turbulent eras in the nation’s history, American Moonshot is an homage to scientific ingenuity, human curiosity, and the boundless American spirit.
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.
From New York Times bestselling historian Douglas Brinkley comes a sweeping historical narrative and eye-opening look at the pioneering environmental policies of President Theodore Roosevelt, avid bird-watcher, naturalist, and the founding father of America’s conservation movement.
In this groundbreaking epic biography, Douglas Brinkley draws on never-before-published materials to examine the life and achievements of our “naturalist president.” By setting aside more than 230 million acres of wild America for posterity between 1901 and 1909, Theodore Roosevelt made conservation a universal endeavor. This crusade for the American wilderness was perhaps the greatest U.S. presidential initiative between the Civil War and World War I. Roosevelt’s most important legacies led to the creation of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and passage of the Antiquities Act in 1906. His executive orders saved such treasures as Devils Tower, the Grand Canyon, and the Petrified Forest.
During his two terms as the 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan kept a daily diary in which he recorded, by hand, his innermost thoughts and observations on the extraordinary, the historic, and the routine day-to-day occurrences of his presidency. Now, nearly two decades after he left office, this remarkable record—the only daily Presidential diary in American history—is available for the first time.
Edited by historian Douglas Brinkley, The Reagan Diaries provides a striking insight into one of this nation’s most important presidencies and sheds new light on the character of a true American leader. Whether he was in his White House residence study or aboard Air Force One, each night Reagan wrote about the events of his day, which often included his relationships with other world leaders and the unforgettable moments that defined the era.Seldom before has the American public been given access to the unfiltered experiences and opinions of a President in his own words. To read these diaries—filled with Reagan’s trademark wit, sharp intelligence, and humor—is to gain a unique understanding of one of the most beloved occupants of the Oval Office in our nation’s history.
Is now the time for an American parish priest to be declared a Catholic saint?
In Father Michael McGivney (1852-1890), born and raised in a Connecticut factory town, the modern era's ideal of the priesthood hit its zenith. The son of Irish immigrants, he was a man to whom "family values" represented more than mere rhetoric. And he left a legacy of hope still celebrated around the world.
In the late 1800s, discrimination against American Catholics was widespread. Many Catholics struggled to find work and ended up in infernolike mills. An injury or the death of the wage earner would leave a family penniless. The grim threat of chronic homelessness and even starvation could fast become realities. Called to action in 1882 by his sympathy for these suffering people, Father McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus, an organization that has helped to save countless families from the indignity of destitution. From its uncertain beginnings, when Father McGivney was the only person willing to work toward its success, it has grown to an international membership of 1.7 million men.
At heart, though, Father McGivney was never anything more than an American parish priest, and nothing less than that, either—beloved by children, trusted by young adults, and regarded as a "positive saint" by the elderly in his New Haven parish.
In an incredible work of academic research, Douglas Brinkley (The Boys of Pointe Du Hoc, Tour of Duty) and Julie M. Fenster (Race of the Century, Ether Day) re-create the life of Father McGivney, a fiercely dynamic yet tenderhearted man. Though he was only thirty-eight when he died, Father McGivney has never been forgotten. He remains a true "people's priest," a genuinely holy man—and perhaps the most beloved parish priest in U.S. history. Moving and inspirational, Parish Priest chronicles the process of canonization that may well make Father McGivney the first American-born parish priest to be declared a saint by the Vatican.
The "accidental" president whose innate decency and steady hand restored the presidency after its greatest crisis
When Gerald R. Ford entered the White House in August 1974, he inherited a presidency tarnished by the Watergate scandal, the economy was in a recession, the Vietnam War was drawing to a close, and he had taken office without having been elected. Most observers gave him little chance of success, especially after he pardoned Richard Nixon just a month into his presidency, an action that outraged many Americans, but which Ford thought was necessary to move the nation forward.
Many people today think of Ford as a man who stumbled a lot--clumsy on his feet and in politics--but acclaimed historian Douglas Brinkley shows him to be a man of independent thought and conscience, who never allowed party loyalty to prevail over his sense of right and wrong. As a young congressman, he stood up to the isolationists in the Republican leadership, promoting a vigorous role for America in the world. Later, as House minority leader and as president, he challenged the right wing of his party, refusing to bend to their vision of confrontation with the Communist world. And after the fall of Saigon, Ford also overruled his advisers by allowing Vietnamese refugees to enter the United States, arguing that to do so was the humane thing to do.
Brinkley draws on exclusive interviews with Ford and on previously unpublished documents (including a remarkable correspondence between Ford and Nixon stretching over four decades), fashioning a masterful reassessment of Gerald R. Ford's presidency and his underappreciated legacy to the nation.
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.
In anticipation of the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing, New York Times bestselling author and historian Douglas Brinkley delivers a young readers’ edition of a story rooted in heroism, bravery, and patriotism: America’s race to the moon.
July 20, 1969. It’s a day that has earned a spot in history. It’s the day that America was the first nation to succeed in sending two astronauts—Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong—to the moon.
But what led to this unforgettable event? What were the stakes riding on the Apollo 11’s safe landing? In acclaimed author Douglas Brinkley’s first young readers' edition, space fans will get the riveting and factual backstory of arguably the most significant achievement of the 20th century.
“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.