Letters From America: The Elections

Letters From America: The Elections

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Summary

Alistair Cooke was a radio legend, entertaining millions of listeners for over fifty years in his weekly Letter from America. It was the longest-running one-man series in radio history, and every show was a virtuoso performance. Wise and witty, informed yet informal, Cooke was the doyen of foreign correspondents.

To correspond with the 2008 election, and the centenary of Alistair Cooke's birth, here are five Letters about previous presidents and their elections over the past sixty years, in which Cooke - one of the world's most famous letter writers and radio's greatest observer - reflects on American life and politics.

Starting with Truman's surprise victory in 1948 and concluding with another surprise win, that of George W. Bush in 2000 - he comments on opinion polls, democracy, the difference between Democrats and Republicans, Bill Clinton's fashion sense and what Clinton's symbolic rejection of 'the blue blazer' meant to the American political system. In each Letter, his unique style of expression and analysis shines through.

The Letters are introduced by the BBC's North America editor, Justin Webb, who sets them in their historical context and reflects on what has changed since Cooke's original broadcasts and what has not.

'Cooke's debonaire, transatlantic tones are unmistakable...' - FT Magazine.

About the author

Alistair Cooke

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.
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