Letters From America: Seasonal Letters

Letters From America: Seasonal Letters

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This selection contains eight of Alistair Cooke's Christmas and New Year Letters from America, broadcast in December and January over the five decades of his career and covering a range of festive topics from the light-hearted to the sombre.

Starting with his December 2001 Letter - broadcast in the wake of 9/11 - he remembers introducing Leonard Bernstein to Handel's 'Messiah', muses on the creation of A Christmas Carol and shares his memories of two friends who died in 1977, Groucho Marx and Bing Crosby.

Here, too, are Cooke's reflections on Christmas in Vermont, the early days of television in the USA, cigarette advertising and sport, the Millennium Bug and the Nixon family's first days in the White House. The Letters are introduced and linked by the BBC's Justin Webb, who sets them in their historical context and adds his own observations.

'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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