Alistair Cooke (1908-2004) enjoyed an extraordinary life in print, radio and television. Born in Salford in 1908 and educated at the universities of Cambridge, Yale and Harvard, throughout his long career he worked as a journalist and broadcaster for many different organisations and won numerous awards for his work. He was the Guardian's chief American correspondent for twenty-five years and the host of Masterpiece Theatre and other ground-breaking cultural television programmes. He achieved acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic for his thirteen-part BBC series America- A Personal History of the United States and the accompanying book sold two million copies. Alistair Cooke was, however, best known both at home and abroad for his weekly Letter from America, which was heard over five continents and totalled 2,869 broadcasts, becoming far and away the longest-running BBC radio series in broadcasting history. He died in March 2004, just a few weeks after his retirement.
Cooke had a matchless ability to convey the feelings of the
American people at times of great historical importance. Accustomed
to hearing these pieces rather than reading them, one is also
struck by the quality of Cooke's writing. His command of language
and sharp eye for physical description shine in this collection as
do his sense of humour and deep emotional sensitivity.
In its perspective on the United States in the latter half of the 20th century, this is as insightful a history book as you are likely to find. Much more than that, it is a fitting record of an erudite, much loved man.
*Times Literary Supplement*
No one else succeeded in explaining to the English-speaking world ... the idiosyncrasies of a country at once so familiar, and yet so utterly foreign
There is never going to be anyone else like Cooke, a chronicler of amazing times
Cooke was the special relationship
The range of Cooke's experiences was awesome but he always had the personal touch