Douglas Brinkley on Vonnegut, Rushdie, and Freedom of Expression

We are so happy to host American Author and Historian Douglas Brinkley at our 2019 Night of Vonnegut gala on April 11 at the Athenaeum. Dr. Brinkley will interview another well-known author, Sir Salman Rushdie, that evening as part of the gala program. If you don’t have tickets for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear these gentlemen speak, click here.

Dr. Brinkley is the Katherine Tsanoff Brown Professor in Humanities at Rice University, a presidential historian, and prolific writer. A sampling of his work includes The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast;  CronkiteThe Nixon Tapes; The Reagan DiariesTour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War; and Rightful Heritage: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Land of America.  He also authored books on Hunter S. Thompson and Jack Kerouac. His newest work, American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race hits bookstores April 2. 

Dr. Brinkley took time recently to share a few thoughts with us.

What is your interest in or experience with Kurt Vonnegut?

Kurt was a friend of mine. Over the years, I visited with him in New Orleans, New York City, and the Hamptons. His wife Jill took a few excellent photos of us together. Also, somewhere in my archive I have a letter from him, which is a treasured keepsake.

Which of Vonnegut’s books influenced you the most?

My favorite books of his are Breakfast of Champions and Player Piano.

We are excited about having you as our interviewer for Salman Rushdie. As you know, this interview will relate to the 50th anniversary of Slaughterhouse-Five and how Rushdie came to know Vonnegut. We will also cover the importance of freedom of expression, which was important to Vonnegut, and we know it’s important to you and Mr. Rushdie, as well. We were interested to learn when we invited you that the two of you already know each other. What are your thoughts about this interview?

I’m looking forward to interviewing Salman Rushdie. We both were eulogists at the memorial service for our mutual friend Christopher Hitchens in April 2012.

Well, we look forward to your visit, and the timing is great considering the April 2 release of your book. Thanks for your willingness to participate in Night of Vonnegut, speak with us for this blog, and sign books at the April event, as well.

We will see you soon!

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