A distinguished white academic and prominent Christian layman, he joined the Liberal Party in March 1962, after many of its leaders had been detained during the 1960 emergency and after the government had begun to use its banning powers against the main leaders of the party. Brookes was 27 when he published a major work. The History of Native Policy in South Africa from 1830 to the Present Day (1924). While describing himself as a liberal, he supported at this time a paternalistic form of racial segregation and development. He later abandoned these views and moved toward acceptance of universal suffrage. He taught at the Afrikaans-speaking Transvaal University College (later the University of Pretoria), became active in the Joint Council and Oxford movements, and was principal from 1933 to 1945 of the influential missionary school known as Adams College, where Z. K. Matthews and Albert Luthuli were his colleagues andAnton Lembede and Jordan Ngubane were among the students. He was elected to the Senate in 1937 by Africans in Natal and served in Parliament for about 15 years. In 1952 he became professor of history and political science at the University of Natal. He was president of the 1961 multiracial conference known as the Natal Convention. Following the ban on Peter Brown in 1964, he became national chairman of the Liberal Party. In 1973 he dissented from the emphasis on groups and the criticism of traditional individualism in the political report of the Study Project on Christianity in Apartheid Society, proclaiming himself "an 'unreconstructed' liberal." He has written extensively and currently writes forReality: A Journal of Liberal and Radical Opinion.