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Douglas Brinkley
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Exclusively WSB

Douglas Brinkley

Monumental in his contribution to American culture, Douglas Brinkley takes the historical lessons of the past and applies them to the present and our future.
American Historian and Best-Selling Author; Presidential Historian, CNN; Katherine Tsanoff Brown Chair in Humanities and Professor of History at Rice University

Expertise In:

  • Overcoming Obstacles and Challenges
  • Leadership
  • American Politics
  • Innovation
  • African American Affairs

Audience & Industry

  • Associations
  • Corporations
  • The Professional Services Industry
  • The Finance Industry
  • Colleges and Universities

Monumental in his contribution to American culture, Douglas Brinkley takes the historical lessons of the past and applies them to the present and our future.

Called “America’s new past master” and “the best of the new generation of American historians,” Dr. Douglas Brinkley is a distinguished professor of history at Rice University and a fellow at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy. His writing covers a broad range of topics, including presidents, military campaigns, American leaders, Catholicism and Hurricane Katrina. He thrills audiences with his insights on history’s biggest people and events and how they relate to current events. He is the Presidential Historian for CNN and a contributing editor for Vanity Fair. The New York Times selected five of Brinkley’s award-winning books as Notable Books of the Year, and The Reagan Diaries was a New York Times best seller. The Quiet World: Saving Alaska's Wilderness Kingdom, 1879-1960 offers a riveting, expansive look at the past and present battle to preserve Alaska’s wilderness. His second Reagan book, The Notes: Ronald Reagan’s Private Collection of Stories and Wisdom (2011), showcases the president’s well-read, thoughtful side as well as the humor that helped him woo his allies and opponents alike. Brinkley edited the book into nine chapters ranging from war to religion. He is the official biographer of Rosa Parks. Brinkley’s 2005 biography, Rosa Parks: A Life, is a revelatory portrait of an American heroine and her tumultuous times. In his New York Times best seller, Cronkite (2012), Brinkley brings this American icon into focus as never before drawing on his unprecedented access to Cronkite's private papers as well as interviews with his family and friends. His book, The Nixon Tapes (2014), also a New York Times best seller, offers a selection of fascinating scenes including the year Nixon opened relations with China, negotiated the SALT I Arms Agreement with the Soviet Union, and won a landslide reelection victory—providing a never-before-seen glimpse into a flawed president's hubris, paranoia, and political genius. His latest book is JFK: A Vision for America (2017), which tells the story—in words and pictures—of President John F. Kennedy's life and presidency, and depicts his compelling vision for America.

Featured Videos

Featured Experiences

The U.S. Military: Historical Perspective and Future Needs

At a time when the U.S. military is engaged in its longest, most demanding campaign, our armed forces are stretched thin, but soldier morale remains high. The ongoing commitment of the armed forces – despite the ebbs and flows of politics – is an extraordinary testament to leadership and organizational skill. Brinkley’s voluminous work on a far-reaching range of military campaigns makes him ideally suited to share incredible stories of leadership as well as a general assessment of today’s military and its future.

The Business Innovators: Henry Ford to Jeff Bezos

As Dr. Douglas Brinkley points out in his epic book Wheels for the World: Henry Ford, His Company, and a Century of Progress, the history of corporations is often neglected. In this revealing presentation, Brinkley highlights the leaders who have constantly pushed for more – as well as the groups of ordinary and extraordinary people surrounding them – and who have, in turn, built America’s greatest companies. He compares his research about Henry Ford, who shaped the 20th century, to the challenges and opportunities faced by Jeff Bezos and other corporate leaders who will shape the 21st century.

Race Relations in America: The Past, Present and Future

Brinkley lived through the destruction of Hurricane Katrina with his fellow New Orleans residents. In his book The Great Deluge, he shares a complete account of the harrowing week following the flood. His official biography of Rosa Parks captures her personal dignity while conveying the power of her legacy. Brinkley shares highlights from these two amazing stories, provides historical context, and foretells the future of race relations in America.

Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and Space

Brinkley explores American exceptionalism through the lens of President Kennedy’s call to send humans to the moon, the subject of an upcoming book as well as a 2014 discussion with Neil Armstrong. He describes the motivations behind the moonshot, its impact on both business and government, and similar efforts across industries. Brinkley also offers insight into future opportunities to mobilize resources and motivate people to achieve the seemingly impossible.

Highs and Lows of the American Presidency: Past, Present and Future

As one of America’s leading presidential historians, Brinkley has written books on Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt. In fact, CNN has called him “a man who knows more about the presidency than any human being alive.” Brinkley shares his extensive knowledge of the office of the presidency and the men who have filled it. He paints a rich portrait of the past, offers unparalleled insight into our present, and imparts lessons we should consider for the future.


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Douglas Brinkley

Cronkite (opens in a new tab)

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Douglas Brinkley

The Nixol Tapes (opens in a new tab)