Richard Brookhiser – November 17, 1999


Richard Brookhiser

Alexander Hamilton: American

Richard Brookhiser was born in Irondequoit, a suburb of Rochester, New York, in 1955. He wrote his first article for National Review about anti-Vietnam War protests at his high school; it was published the day after his fifteenth birthday. When he graduated from college (Yale, ’77) he went to work for National Review, and has stayed ever since.

For twenty years (1987-2007) I wrote a column for the New York Observer. I have also free-lanced for a number of magazines including The New Yorker to Cosmopolitan to Commentary to Vanity Fair.

I wrote about Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, Iowa caucuses and national conventions, Philip Larkin and Bobby Short, the collapse of Communism and 9/11. Ronald Reagan laughed at one of my jokes; Margaret Thatcher repeated it. I shook Fidel Castro’s hand. I had a close, sometimes tumultuous relationship with William F. Buckley, Jr. (which is the subject of Right Time, Right Place).

Along the way I became a historian of the founding period. After writing about modern politicians, it didn’t seem a stretch to write about dead ones. The founders are our fathers; they are also our contemporaries, present in so much of what we think and do. I curated “Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America,” an exhibition at the New-York Historical Society; and I wrote and hosted “Rediscovering George Washington” and “Rediscovering Alexander Hamilton,” films by Michael Pack which aired on PBS. I am currently a columnist for American History. In 2008 I was awarded the National Medal of the Humanities. In 2011 I was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship.

In 1980 I married Jeanne Safer, a psychoanalyst and author of her own books (including The Normal One and Cain’s Legacy). We live in New York City, and have a house in the woods in Ulster County. My alternating column for National Review is called “City Desk” and “Country Life.”

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