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November 09 , 2008

Talk About America



“There is never going to be anyone else like Cooke, a chronicler of amazing times.” —The Daily Telegraph

As the voice of the BBC’s Letter from America for close to six decades, Alistair Cooke addressed several millions of listeners on five continents. They tuned in every Friday evening or Sunday morning to listen to his erudite and entertaining reports on life in the United States. According to Lord Hill of Luton, chairman of the BBC, Cooke had “a virtuosity approaching genius in talking about America in human terms.”

This second collection of Cooke’s personally selected letters covers tumultuous events in American history such as the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement. His analysis of the origins of the conflict in Vietnam is clear eyed and compelling, and in three thoughtful and incisive essays—on Brown v. Board of Education, the struggle to integrate the Deep South, and the riots in Watts—Cooke identifies the changing racial attitudes that defined the era. He reflects on the rise of drug use among college students and offers a paean to the beauty of Golden Gate Park. With characteristically incisive portraits of political and cultural figures such as John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Robert Frost, H. L. Mencken, Charles Lindbergh, and John Glenn, Talk About America: 1951–1968 is rich with humor, compassion, and commitment. In this superb overview of an astonishing era in America’s twentieth century, Alistair Cooke is at the top of his game.
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