Alan Brinkley (June 2, 1949 – June 16, 2019) was an American political historian who taught for over 20 years at Columbia University. He was the Allan Nevins Professor of History until his death. From 2003 to 2009, he was University Provost.

Early life

Brinkley was born in Washington, D.C., the son of Ann (Fischer) and David Brinkley, a long-time television newscaster at NBC and ABC. Alan was a brother of Joel Brinkley. Brinkley graduated with an A.B. from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University in 1971 after completing a 218-page senior thesis titled "The Gospel of Discontent: Huey Long in National Politics 1932-1935." He received his Ph.D. in history from Harvard University in 1979 after completing a doctoral dissertation titled "The Long and Coughlin movements: dissident voices in the Great Depression."


Brinkley's scholarship has focused mainly on the period of the Great Depression and World War II. Among his books are ''Voices of Protest: Huey Long, Father Coughlin, and the Great Depression'' (1983), which won the National Book Award; ''The End of Reform: New Deal Liberalism in Recession and War'' (1995); ''Liberalism and its Discontents'' (1998); and ''The Publisher: Henry Luce and His American Century'' (2010), which won the Ambassador Book Prize and the Sperber Prize, as well as being a Pulitzer Prize finalist. He is the author of two short biographies: ''Franklin D. Roosevelt'' (2009) and ''John F. Kennedy'' (2012). His essay "The Problem of American Conservatism" was published in the ''American Historical Review'' in 1994. He was one of three American historians to have been both Harmsworth Professor of American History at Oxford (1998-1999) and Pitt Professor of American History at Cambridge (2011-2012). He was an honorary fellow of the Rothermere American Institute at the University of Oxford. He received the Jerome Levenson Teaching Prize in 1982 at Harvard University, where Brinkley taught for seven years; and the Great Teacher Award at Columbia in 2003. He became the provost of Columbia on July 1, 2003. He was the chair of the board of the Century Foundation in New York, and he was the chairman of the National Humanities Center in North Carolina. He was also a trustee of Oxford University Press from 2009 to 2012, and a trustee of the Dalton School. In 2018, Columbia University Press published ''Alan Brinkley: A Life in History'', edited by David Greenberg, Moshik Temkin, and Mason B. Williams. The book includes essays about Brinkley's scholarship and career by many of his doctoral advisees as well as personal essays by friends and colleagues of his including A. Scott Berg, Frank Rich, and Nicholas Lemann.


Brinkley was the senior author of two best-selling, frequently updated American history textbooks, ''American History: A Survey'' and ''The Unfinished Nation''. They are widely used in universities and in AP United States History high school classes. He also wrote the commonly used AP US History textbook ''American History: Connecting With The Past''. Brinkley took over sole responsibility for the ninth edition of the ''American History: A Survey'' textbook from historians Richard N. Current, Frank Freidel, and T. Harry Williams. He had joined the team to help with the 1979 revisions. Historian Emil Pocock, evaluating the ninth edition of 1995, said it is: :Typical of the mass market textbook....Brinkley offers a traditional narrative of American history. Built around a core of political and economic events, this attractive colored text contains a good selection of illustrations, maps, charts, and other graphics, as well as other features designed to make it stand out among the competition....This latest edition has integrated additional material on immigrants, Native Americans, African-Americans, and women into the political narrative.

Personal details

He lived in Manhattan, New York with his wife, Evangeline Morphos, and his daughter, Elly. On June 16, 2019, Brinkley died at his home in Manhattan from complications of frontotemporal dementia.


* ''America in the Twentieth Century'' (1960), co-authored with Frank Freidel; 5th ed. published in 1982 – used in college 20th century U.S. history classes. * ''American History: A Survey'', originally by Richard N. Current, T. Harry Williams, and Frank Freidel (1961), by Brinkley in recent editions, reaching the 11th ed. in 1995, 13th ed. in 2009, and 15th ed. in 2015 — used especially for AP U.S. History and International Baccalaureate History courses. * 1982 ''Voices of Protest: Huey Long, Father Coughlin, and the Great Depression'' — winner of the National Book Award * 1992 ''The Unfinished Nation: A Concise History of the American People'' (2 vols.). Later eds. are co-written by Harvey H. Jackson and Bradley Robert Rice. * 1995 ''The End of Reform: New Deal Liberalism in Recession and War'' * 1997 ''New Federalist Papers: Essays in Defense of the Constitution'' with Nelson W. Polsby and Kathleen M. Sullivan * 1998 ''Liberalism and Its Discontents'' * 1999 ''Culture and Politics in the Great Depression'' * 2009 ''Franklin Delano Roosevelt'' * 2010 ''The Publisher: Henry Luce and His American Century'' * 2012 ''John F. Kennedy: The American Presidents Series: The 35th President, 1961-1963''


* 1983 National Book Award for ''Voices of Protest''"National Book Awards – 1983"
National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-04-13.
This was the 1980 award for hardcover History.
From 1980 to 1983 in National Book Award history there were dual hardcover and paperback awards in most categories, and several nonfiction subcategories including General Nonfiction. Most of the paperback award-winners were reprints, including the 1983 History.
* 1987 Joseph R. Levenson Memorial Teaching Prize, Harvard University * 2003 Great Teacher Award, Columbia University * 2006-2007 Scholarly Journal Award by Kathy Walh-Henshaw at St. Mary's Lancaster



External links

A Time to Remember, How Henry Luce Founded a Magazine Empire That Became His Bully Pulpit, The Wall Street Journal, 17 April 2010
* *
with Alan Brinkley
by Stephen McKiernan, Binghamton University Libraries Center for the Study of the 1960s, August 13, 1997  {{DEFAULTSORT:Brinkley, Alan Category:1949 births Category:2019 deaths Category:20th-century American historians Category:Columbia University faculty Category:Harold Vyvyan Harmsworth Professors of American History Category:Harvard University alumni Category:Historians of the United States Category:National Book Award winners Category:Princeton School of Public and International Affairs alumni Category:The New York Review of Books people Category:Writers from Washington, D.C. Category:The Century Foundation Category:Deaths from motor neuron disease