Richard Norton Smith (born Leominster, Massachusetts in 1953- ) is an American speechwriter and historian. “There’s no excuse for a dull book, a dull museum, or a dull speech,” says Richard Norton Smith. “Especially when dealing with history – the most fascinating subject I know.” His unstuffy approach to the past, combined with his trademark humor, flavors the commentary he provides regularly on C-SPAN and The Newshour With Jim Lehrer.
Born in Leominster, Massachusetts in 1953, Mr. Smith graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1975 with a degree in government. Following graduation he worked as a White House intern and as a free lance writer for The Washington Post. After being employed as a speech writer for Massachusetts Senator Edward Brooke, he went to work for Senator Bob Dole, with whom he has collaborated on numerous projects over the years.
Mr. Smith’s first major book, Thomas E. Dewey and His Times, was a finalist for the 1983 Pulitzer Prize. He has also written An Uncommon Man: The Triumph of Herbert Hoover (1984), The Harvard Century: The Making of a University to a Nation (1986) and Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation (1993). In June 1997, Houghton Mifflin published Mr. Smith’s The Colonel: The Life and Legend of Robert R. McCormick, which received the prestigious Goldsmith Prize awarded by Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School, and has been described by Hilton Kramer as “the best book ever written about the press.” Currently Mr. Smith is at work on a biography of Nelson Rockefeller, a massive project involving thousands of pages of newly available documents, as well as more than 150 interviews with Rockefeller associates.