Historian Douglas Brinkley to Present ‘The Business Innovators: Henry Ford to Jeff Bezos’ on April 16

March 21, 2024 | by the Office of Marketing and Communications

douglas brinkley

Douglas Brinkley is a historian and best-selling author, acclaimed for his ability to take the historical lessons of our past and apply them to our present and future.

As he points out in his epic book Wheels for the World: Henry Ford, His Company, and a Century of Progress, the history of corporations—and the relevance of that history today—are often neglected.

On April 16, Brinkley will present “The Business Innovators: Henry Ford to Jeff Bezos,” this year’s Rudolf G. Schade Lecture on History, Ethics and Law at Elmhurst University.


In this illuminating lecture, Brinkley will highlight the leaders who have constantly pushed for more—as well as the groups of ordinary and extraordinary people surrounding them—and who built America’s greatest companies. He compares his research about Henry Ford, who shaped the 20th century, to the challenges and opportunities faced by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and other corporate leaders who are shaping the 21st century.

Douglas Brinkley is the presidential historian for the New York Historical Society and is a frequent contributor to CBS News, CNN and MSNBC.  He is the Katherine Tsanoff Brown Chair in Humanities and Professor of History at Rice University. In 2022, he published Silent Spring Revolution, which chronicles the rise of environmental activism; his other books include New York Times bestseller American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race; and The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, which received the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award.

The Rudolf G. Schade Lecture on History, Ethics and Law will begin at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16, in Hammerschmidt Memorial Chapel. A book signing will follow the lecture, and copies of Brinkley’s books will be available for purchase. Admission is $15 for the general public and is free for Elmhurst University students, faculty, staff and alumni. Tickets are available at elmhurst.edu/cultural.

The public lectures and other cultural programming at Elmhurst University support community engagement and lifelong learning, and prepare our students to thrive as adaptive leaders. For more information, email marketing@elmhurst.edu.

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