Douglas Brinkley (born December 14, 1960) is an American author and a professor of history at Rice University. He previously was a professor of history at Tulane University, where he also served as director of the Theodore Roosevelt Center for American Civilization. Brinkley is the history commentator for CBS News and a contributing editor to the magazine Vanity Fair. He joined Rice and the James Baker Institute for Public Policy on July 1, 2007.
Brinkley was born in Atlanta, Georgia. His parents were high school teachers. Raised in Perrysburg, Ohio, he earned his B.A. from Ohio State University (1982), and his M.A. (1983) and Ph.D. (1989) from Georgetown University in U.S. Diplomatic History. He has taught at Princeton University, the U.S. Naval Academy, and Hofstra University, and he has earned several honorary doctorates for his contributions to American letters including one from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.
During the early 1990s, Brinkley taught American Arts and Politics out of Hofstra aboard the Majic Bus [sic], 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."
Brinkley worked closely with his mentor, historian Stephen E. Ambrose, then director of the Eisenhower Center 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 is a prolific and acclaimed historian, writer, and editor.
Ambrose called Brinkley "the best of the new generation of American historians." Brinkley and Ambrose wrote three books together: The Rise to Globalism: American Foreign Policy Since 1938 (1997), Witness to History (1999), and The Mississippi and the Making of a Nation: From the Louisiana Purchase to Today (2002), a National Geographic Society best-seller (published on the bicentennial of Thomas Jefferson's doubling the size of America). In contrast, 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." Taking note of Brinkley's biography of John Kerry, The Weekly Standard noted that it contained "various factual inaccuracies and contradictions," describing it as a "famously sycophantic biography."
Six of his award-winning books have been selected as New York Times Notable Books of the Year.
Brinkley’s first book was Jean Monnet: The Path to European Unity (1992). Former Undersecretary of State George Ball wrote a forward. But it was the publication of Dean Acheson: The Cold War Years (1992) that brought Brinkley widespread acclaim. A board member of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, Brinkley 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).
Driven Patriot (1992), a biography of James Forrestal, received the Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt Naval History Prize.
In 1998, Brinkley's comprehensive American Heritage History of the United States was published.
The Unfinished Presidency: Jimmy Carter's Journey Beyond the White House (1999) is widely considered instrumental in the ex-president's winning of the Nobel Peace prize.
Brinkley's epic Wheels for the World: Henry Ford, His Company, and A Century of Progress (2003) won Business Week book of the year.
Brinkley was selected as the official biographer of Rosa Parks.
Brinkley is the literary executor for his late friend, the journalist Hunter S. Thompson. He is the editor of a three-volume collection of Thompson's letters:
* Volume 1: The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967. Published April 7, 1998.
* Volume 2: Fear And Loathing In America: The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist. Published December 13, 2000.
* Volume 3: The Mutineer: Rants, Ravings, and Missives from the Mountaintop, 1977-2005. Scheduled for 2010.
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 Kurt Vonnegut, 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.
In January 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, The Long War of John Kerry," is loosely based on Brinkley's book  (retrieved Mar. 28, 2010).
In January 2006, Brinkley and fellow historian Julie M. Fenster released Parish Priest, a biography of Father Michael J. McGivney, the founder of the Knights of Columbus.
In May 2006, Brinkley released The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, 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, A Requiem in Four Acts.
Brinkley edited the New York Times best-selling The Reagan Diaries (2007).
Brinkley is also the author of The Boys of Pointe du Hoc: Ronald Reagan, D-Day, and the U.S. Army 2nd Ranger Battalion (2005), which rose to #5 on the New York Times Best Seller list.
Brinkley’s The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America was a bestseller in 2009. It featured on the following bestseller lists:
* National Independent bookstore (for non-fiction): #1
*New York Times: #6
*Los Angeles Times: #2
*Washington Post: #4
*Wall Street Journal: #7
When Barack Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States Brinkley was asked, along with Tom Brokaw and U.S. Representative John Lewis, to write an essay for the Official Inaugural Book. He was also invited to the White House in the summer of 2009 to discuss history with the president in a wide-ranging conversation on everything from foreign policy to conservation.
Brinkley lives in Austin, Texas. He and his wife Anne have three children, Johnny, Benton, and Cassady. He is a member of the Century Club and the Council on Foreign Relations. A frequent guest lecturer at colleges and corporate events, he is represented by the Washington Speaker's Bureau.