It is, more than anything else, his extraordinary range that impresses. Here’s a guy who can spend months, years, producing a 900-page biography of Teddy Roosevelt and at the same time, just as the first excerpts from that serious yet readable tome are seeing print, publish a 12,000-word cover story in Rolling Stone about Bob Dylan — who can edit both Ronald Reagan’s diaries and Hunter S. Thompson’s letters, who can serve as the official biographer for both Rosa Parks and Jack Kerouac, who can write passionately and authoritatively about Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath and Lance Armstrong’s comeback and Vietnam and Henry Ford and the Mississippi River and Norman Mailer and so much more. There seems to be no end to the subject matter considered fair game by the historian and author Douglas Brinkley. The 48-year-old public intellectual left New Orleans, where he was a professor of history at Tulane University, in the summer of 2007 and settled in Austin, from which he commutes to Houston and his current teaching gig, as a distinguished profesor of history at Rice University. Born and raised in Atlanta, Brinkley has a B.A. from Ohio State and a PhD. from Georgetown; in addition to his book and academic work, he’s a commentator for CBS News and a contributing editor to Vanity Fair. And he’s a relentless self-promoter in the very best sense of that phrase: This summer he’ll tour the country in support of his new book on TR, titled The Wilderness Warrior — with stops at national parks and other natural settings where a lack of air-conditioning surely won’t diminish his usual high energy and good cheer.
— Evan Smith, host of Texas Monthly Talks