Professor Brooke is the director of the OSU Center for Historical Research and co-chair of the 2011-2012 Program: Disease, Health, and Environment in Global History. He received his B.A. from Cornell University (1975) and his M.A. (1977) and Ph.D. (1982) from the University of Pennsylvania, and between 1981 and 2001 taught at Franklin and Marshall, Amherst, and Tufts before coming to Ohio State. He was named an O.S.U. Humanities Distinguished Professor in September 2003, and served as Vice Chair of the department from 2006 to 2008. In 2007-2008 he served as the president of the Society of Historians of the Early American Republic. He was appointed an adjunct member of the Department of Anthropology in 2013.
His teaching areas include Early American History and Environmental History, and he regularly teaches the American survey to 1877, Colonial North America, The American Revolution and Early Republic, America in the Age of Jefferson and Jackson, and Global Environmental History.
Brooke is the author of four books in early American history: The Heart of the Commonwealth: Society and Political Culture in Worcester County Massachusetts, 1713-1861(Cambridge University Press, 1989) and The Refiner's Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844 (Cambridge University Press, 1994). The Heart of the Commonwealth won the Merle Curti Award for Intellectual History from the Organization of American Historians and the National Historical Society Book Prize for American History. The Refiner's Fire won the Bancroft Prize for American History and the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic Best Book Prize. Columbia Rising: Civil Life on the Upper Hudson from the Revolution to the Age of Jackson, was published in 2010 by the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the University of North Carolina Press in November. It has been awarded the Dixon Ryan Fox Manuscript Prize by the New York State Historical Association and the SHEAR Best Book Prize. His latest book, There is a North: Political Crisis, Cultural Rupture, and the Coming of the Civil War, was published by the University of Massachusetts Press in November 2019.
While his major field of interest is American political and social history from 1660-1860, he also has a long-standing teaching interest in global environmental history. In connection with this work he is a consultant for the N.S.F. funded O.S.U. "Project on European Health since the Paleolithic." His book, Climate Change and the Course of Global History: A Rough Journey, published in the spring of 2014 by Cambridge University Press, examines the long material and natural history of the human condition.
He has written articles and book reviews for the William and Mary Quarterly, Annales: Economies, Sociétés, Civilisations, American Historical Review, Journal of American History, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Journal of Economic History, and Reviews in American History, among others. Brooke's most recent articles include his S.H.E.A.R. Presidential Address, "Cultures of Nationalism, Movements of Reform, and the Composite-Federal Polity: From Revolutionary Settlement to Antebellum Crisis,” Journal of the Early Republic , (2009); "Consent, Civil Society, and the Public Sphere in the Age of Revolution and the Early American Republic," in Jeffery Pasley, Andrew Robertson, and David Waldstreicher, eds., Beyond the Founders: New Approaches to the Political History of the Early American Republic (2004); "Ecology," in Daniel Vickers, ed., The Blackwell Companion to Colonial America (2003), and "'To be Read by the Whole People': Press, Party, and Public Sphere in the United States, 1789-1840," Proceeding of the American Antiquarian Society 110 (2000).
Professor Brooke has held fellowships awarded by the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Commonwealth Center/Institute of Early American History and Culture at the College of William and Mary, the Charles Warren Center, Harvard University, and the American Antiquarian Society.
For graduate students preparing Major and Minor fields in Early American History, Professor Brooke recommends the list of following titles in addition to the list developed by the Early American Graduate Group.