Alan Brinkley (born June 2, 1949) is an American political historian who has taught for over 20 years at Columbia University. He is currently the Allan Nevins Professor of History. From 2003 to 2009, he was University Provost.
Brinkley was born in Washington, D.C. He is the son of Ann (Fischer) and David Brinkley, a long-time television newscaster at NBC and ABC. Alan Brinkley is also a brother of Joel Brinkley. Brinkley was an undergraduate at Princeton University and received his doctorate at Harvard University in 1979.
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),[a] 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 is 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 is 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 is the chair of the board of the Century Foundation in New York, and he is 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.
Brinkley is 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 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:
He lives in New York with his wife, Evangeline Morphos, and his daughter, Elly.