I’m afraid that I have failed, until now, to post a link to my book review in last weekend’s FT of a posthumous collection of reportage by Alistair Cooke, the great British journalist and broadcaster.
The first thing that strikes one about this collection of newspaper and radio pieces that Alistair Cooke filed for the BBC and The Guardian over several decades is that he popped up everywhere.
He observed the inaugurations of Truman and Eisenhower, listened to Edward Murrow’s denunciation of Joseph McCarthy, went to Montgomery, Alabama to hear Martin Luther King preach, and was near Robert Kennedy when the latter was assassinated.
The 1977 blackout in New York was about the only big event of postwar US history Cooke missed, although he lived there. He happened to be out of town in London at the time and so avoided hearing, from his apartment overlooking Central Park, the sound of looting.
Cooke was always an elegant writer. This year’s presidential election has sparked a debate about the importance of words, since Barack Obama is so eloquent. Cooke was definitely on the side of the wordsmiths, from John F Kennedy to Ronald Reagan.
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