Douglas Brinkley's Lucky Break: His Book on John Kerry Appears Just as Kerry Suddenly Leaps to the Front of the Presidential Pack

Historians in the News

CNN interview with Douglas Brinkley on January 26, 2004, the night John Kerry won the Iowa caucus:

WOLF BLITZER: Joining us now to discuss electability and other issues, the presidential historian, Douglas Brinkley. He's joining us here in New Hampshire.

Let me see that book. You've got a new book that's out.


BLITZER: A well-timed book, Douglas Brinkley is the author of this book. It's entitled, "Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War." Let's show that to our viewers. There, you see it, the book jacket right there. Congratulations on the new book. Good timing.

BRINKLEY: Thanks. Yes.

BLITZER: A few weeks ago, a few months ago probably, a lot of people were wondering why is Doug Brinkley writing a book about John Kerry, whose campaign wasn't apparently going anywhere?

BRINKLEY: Well, a couple years ago, Wolf, I decided to do a book on Vietnam, and John Kerry became the perfect subject for me. For one thing, when I interviewed him, I found out he kept these voluminous war diaries -- meaning, almost every day he was in the Mekong Delta, he was reflecting on what was happening with Operation Sea Lords.

So, I started interviewing all of the guys, and I wasn't betting on him for the presidency. I was betting on him as an historical figure. And because he protested the war with Vietnam Veterans Against the War, the combo of war/anti-war, I thought, would make a perfect book using a primary source material. My timing turned out to be perfect, but it didn't look that way in October or November.

BLITZER: I'm sure your publisher -- who is your publisher?

BRINKLEY: It's William Morrow (ph).

BLITZER: William Morrow (ph). I'm sure they're happy very about the timing.

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