Douglas Brinkley Profile Photo

Douglas Brinkley

WSB Exclusive Speaker

American Historian and Best-Selling Author; Presidential Historian, CNN; Katherine Tsanoff Brown Chair in Humanities and Professor of History at Rice University

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.

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Douglas Brinkley Profile Photo

Douglas Brinkley is the Katherine Tsanoff Brown Chair in Humanities and Professor of History at Rice University and is on the Board of the National Archives Foundation, The Library of Congress (James Madison Council), and the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library. Additionally, he is the CNN Presidential Historian and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. He works in many capacities in public history, including museums, colleges, and historical societies. The Chicago Tribune dubbed him “America’s New Past Master.” The New-York Historical Society has chosen Brinkley as their official U.S. Presidential Historian.

In 2022, he published Silent Spring Revolution, which chronicles the rise of environmental activism during the Long Sixties and tells the story of an indomitable generation that saved the natural world under the leadership of John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon. Doris Kearns Goodwin praised it as “not only a majestic work of history; it is an urgent call for our time.”

Brinkley’s other books include American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race, a New York Times bestseller, Cronkite, which won the Sperber Prize, and The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, which received the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. He has received a Grammy Award for Presidential Suite and seven honorary doctorates in American Studies. His two-volume annotated The Nixon Tapes won the Arthur S. Link – Warren F. Kuehl Prize.

Brinkley is a board member of the National Archives Foundation, a member of the Council of Foreign Relations, and the James Madison Council of the Library of Congress. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and three children.

Featured Videos

Douglas Brinkley Profile Photo
Douglas Brinkley

Douglas Brinkley: 2016 National Book Festival

Douglas Brinkley Profile Photo
Douglas Brinkley

Douglas Brinkley on President Kennedy’s Commitment to Space Exploration

Douglas Brinkley Profile Photo
Douglas Brinkley

Doug Brinkley – Presidential Lecture Series

Douglas Brinkley Profile Photo
Douglas Brinkley

History with David M. Rubenstein: A Conversation with Douglas Brinkley

Douglas Brinkley’s Speech Topics

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

What other organizations say about Douglas Brinkley

Douglas was a hit. What a great mind he has. His remarks were informative and at times funny. I felt like all the presidents he mentioned were in the room with us. Great speaker!

Universities & Colleges

What other organizations say about Douglas Brinkley

Douglas Brinkley was wonderful! In every respect-he is brilliant and learned and altogether delightful, and all of this was reflected in his talk and Q&A. The audience did not want to let him leave!


What other organizations say about Douglas Brinkley

Douglas Brinkley was great. He sketched the story of Cronkite, America’s commentator-in-chief, in words that took the audience behind the scenes and revealed the man more fully. Brinkley is an eloquent speaker and storyteller; he bids fair to succeed David McCullough as our nation’s favorite historian.



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