Cooke, Alistair - Letter From America - ( Item 124273 )
Published in London by Folio Society. 2009. First Thus. Fine Hardback. No inscriptions or bookplates. Fine slipcase. Introduced by James Naughtie. Bound in cloth, printed with a photograph of the New York City skyline, 1954. Set in Ehrhardt with Victoria Titling display. 320 pages; frontispiece and 16 pages of colour and black & white plates. Size: 9½ × 6¼ ins. Few television broadcasters have been as engaging, astute, or enduringly popular as Alistair Cooke, presenter of Masterpiece Theatre for 22 years. On radio, the longevity of his career was even more impressive. Beginning just after the Second World War and continuing until early 2004, Cooke's wry and humane Letter from America was the longest-running radio series ever to be presented by one person, and a weekly treat for millions. Despite taking American citizenship in 1941, Cooke never lost his sense of himself as British, and his comments form a revealing picture of the relationship between two nations. This new selection of his legendary broadcasts provides a remarkable portrait of the United States in the second half of the 20th century. Although he was as well acquainted with the corridors of power as any journalist, Cooke eschewed the usual haunts of Washington DC and based himself in New York. He travelled regularly throughout America, reporting on what he saw, whether the beauty of Vermont, the devastation of riot-torn Los Angeles or the glamour of Hollywood. It gave him a unique breadth of perspective, from insightful observations of American life (a delight in new technology, weariness of war in Vietnam or a national holiday for Martin Luther King) to world-changing events (the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Civil Rights protests, the Watergate scandal, 9/11). Along the way Cooke celebrates the distinctive qualities of America, from its extraordinary landscape to the character of its people. As broadcaster James Naughtie writes in a specially commissioned introduction to this edition, 'His brilliance lay somewhere in the gleam of his roving eye, which was attracted to the great characters and the big events, but also picked up the hypnotic rhythms of the day-to-day. As a result, Cooke was both an enthusiastic witness to history and a poet of the ordinary.' Striking documentary photographs from the last half-century are set side by side with the text, to present an absorbing, and often moving, record of postwar America.
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