Presidential Historian Douglas Brinkley to Discuss President John F. Kennedy and America’s Race to the Moon at 2019 Brendan Gill Lecture Print


By Ellen de Saint Phalle, Member, Board of Trustees, The Bronxville Historical Conservancy

May 22, 2019:  Fifty-eight years ago this week, President John F. Kennedy announced the dramatic and ambitious goal of sending an American safely to the moon before the end of the decade: “It will not be one man going to the will be an entire nation. For all of us must work to put him there.” Eight years later, on July 20, 1969, Commander Neil Armstrong and pilot Buzz Aldrin landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on the moon, fulfilling Kennedy’s objective.

What transpired in those eight years is chronicled in award-winning presidential historian Douglas Brinkley’s new book, American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race. Brinkley will discuss the book and JFK’s ambitious space program and the dawn of space politics at the annual Brendan Gill Lecture on June 7 at 8:00 pm in the Bronxville School auditorium.

Brinkley is the Katherine Tsanoff Brown Chair in Humanities and professor of history at Rice University, a CNN presidential historian, and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair.  

He has published 39 books, including American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race, released by Harper Collins on April 2, 2019. Walter Isaacson said, “Doug Brinkley recounts, with deep research and exciting narrative, the bold spirit and faith in innovation that was embodied in Kennedy’s decision to launch a mission to the moon.”

Brinkley’s previous publications have garnered numerous awards, including the Sperber Prize, the Robert F. Kennedy Prize, the Arthur S. Link-Warren F. Kuehl Prize, the Benjamin Franklin Award, and the Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt Naval History Prize, among others. He has received honorary doctorates from numerous institutions of higher learning as well as Ohio State University’s Humanities Alumni Award of Distinction.

Brinkley also has a passion for jazz, folk, and rock and roll music. In 2007, he won a Grammy Award for co-producing Presidential Suite:  Eight Variations on Freedom and was nominated for a Grammy for Gonzo, his collaboration with Johnny Depp on the soundtrack for Alex Gibney’s documentary on American journalist and author Hunter S. Thompson.

In the world of public history, Brinkley works in many capacities, including on boards and with museums, colleges, and historical societies. He is a member of the Century Association, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the James Madison Council of the Library of Congress. The Chicago Tribune dubbed him “America’s New Past Master,” and CNN proclaimed Brinkley “a man who knows more about the presidency than any human being alive.” The New-York Historical Society has chosen Brinkley as its official U.S. presidential historian.

Brinkley joins an illustrious roster of Gill speakers, including Jon Meacham, Walter Isaacson, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Michael Beschloss, David Halberstam, Stacy Schiff, David Eisenhower, and Linda Greenhouse.  The Bronxville Historical Conservancy presents the Brendan Gill Lecture each year as a gift to the community. Gill was a Bronxville resident, editor, and writer who championed architectural preservation and the visual arts.

To register for the Brendan Gill Lecture, email: CLOAKING  or call 914-961-6790.

Photos courtesy The Bronxville Historical Conservancy

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