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Anglo-America

Stephen Fender

3 April 1980
The London Yankees: Portraits of American Writers and Artists in England, 1894-1914 
by Stanley Weintraub.
W.H. Allen, 408 pp., £7.95, November 1979, 0 491 02209 3
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The Americans: Fifty Letters from America on our Life and Times 
by Alistair Cooke.
Bodley Head, 323 pp., £5.95, October 1979, 0 370 30163 3
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... reporters who thought they were interpreting the other side, when really they were reflecting a layer of transatlantic opinion somewhere between the ionosphere and the English-Speaking Union. Even AlistairCooke, a level-headed observer if ever there was one, lives by now in a world of golf and generation gaps, where people worry about neologisms and cholesterol. His friends are ‘a distinguished ...

Making a Costume Drama out of a Crisis

Jenny Diski: ‘Downton Abbey’

21 June 2012
Downton Abbey: Series One and Two 
Universal DVD, £39.99, November 2011Show More
Upstairs Downstairs: Complete Series One and Two 
BBC DVD, £17.99, April 2012Show More
Park Lane 
by Frances Osborne.
Virago, 336 pp., £14.99, June 2012, 978 1 84408 479 1
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Habits of the House 
by Fay Weldon.
Head of Zeus, 320 pp., £14.99, July 2012, 978 1 908800 04 6
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... AlistairCooke can be seen in an old TV clip, thanks to the bottomless well that is YouTube, carefully cross-legged, wearing a blazer, a discreetly silver-striped black tie on a pearl grey shirt, and what can only ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: TV Lit

15 November 2001
... been accused of sexually assaulting the wife of the President of Nigeria. The royal family get to be themselves, though, and so does Billy Connolly, alone among broadcasting talent (unless you count AlistairCooke and Clive James, who provide epigraphs). This may be because Lawson overlooked Connolly when it came to changing the names, or it may be because he forgot Connolly isn’t a member of the royal ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Hitler’s Last Day

6 May 2015
... Claus Sellier, wearing only his underwear, is looking out of the window of the Hotel Gasthaus zum Brau in Lofer, Austria.’ And so on for another 250 pages and forty-odd hours. We even find out what AlistairCooke had for breakfast in San Francisco (not grilled mutton kidneys but ‘two eggs over easy, sausages, pancakes and syrup’), and learn that ‘the dour-looking Molotov has a softer side.’ As ...

Futility

Gabriele Annan

27 September 1990
Garbo: Her Story 
by Antoni Gronowicz.
Viking, 476 pp., £15.99, August 1990, 0 670 83651 6
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... were made (or ‘retarded’, in Graham Greene’s subversive view). She was an icon for nostalgia then as she is now: a cult object. Schikel quotes other critics – Tynan, Barthes, Stark Young and AlistairCooke – and gradually the image shattered by Gronowicz gets put together again. Reviewing Anna Karenina, Cooke wrote that Garbo ‘wrapped everyone in a protective tenderness ... she sees not only ...

Minnesota Fates

Ferdinand Mount

12 October 1989
We Are Still Married 
by Garrison Keillor.
Faber, 330 pp., £11.99, September 1989, 0 571 14140 4
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... be familiar to the audience in the Dodge City Opera House and telling elaborate tales of his native Minnesota in a honeyed, sonorous style, the dying cadences of which are eerily reminiscent of Mr AlistairCooke reading his Letter from America. Keillor’s unforced charm, variation of pace and command of the audience seemed to me to put him in the front line of one-man showmen, along with, say, Michael ...
19 May 2011
Tough without a Gun: The Extraordinary Life of Humphrey Bogart 
by Stefan Kanfer.
Faber, 288 pp., £14.99, February 2011, 978 0 571 26072 0
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... when the blacklists began, Sam Spade started to shade into the paranoid, whingeing Fred C. Dobbs of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and the deluded Captain Queeg in The Caine Mutiny. Kanfer quotes AlistairCooke: ‘Bogart was aghast to discover [that many of the protestors] were down-the-line Communists coolly exploiting the protection of the First and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution. He had ...

To the End of the Line

Ferdinand Mount: The Red Dean

26 April 2012
The Red Dean of Canterbury: The Public and Private Faces of Hewlett Johnson 
by John Butler.
Scala, 292 pp., £16.95, September 2011, 978 1 85759 736 3
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... 1946, already into his seventies, he gave a prizefighter’s salute to a crowd of thirty thousand inside and outside Madison Square Garden, eclipsing Paul Robeson and Dean Acheson. An awestruck young AlistairCooke reported in the Guardian that ‘he looks like a divinity and he looks like the portrait on every dollar bill.’ The resemblance to George Washington is undeniable, although there is a creepy ...

America Deserta

Richard Poirier

16 February 1989
America 
by Jean Baudrillard, translated by Chris Turner.
Verso, 129 pp., £12.95, November 1988, 0 86091 220 5
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America Observed: The Newspaper Years of Alistair​ Cooke 
by Ronald Wells.
Reinhardt, 233 pp., £12.95, November 1988, 1 871061 09 1
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American Journals 
by Albert Camus, translated by Hugh Levick.
Hamish Hamilton, 155 pp., £11.95, February 1989, 0 241 12621 5
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... it has been in recent decades by Marcuse, Mailer, Pynchon and others, it tends to make workaday accounts sound hopelessly complacent. So that, put in conjunction with Baudrillard, the ever-watchful AlistairCooke, no stranger to television himself, seems irrelevant, even though most of the dispatches, which date as far back as 1946, easily recuperate themselves on rereading and are full of sharp ...
25 June 1987
... of politicians and generals manoeuvred ‘democratic’ Britain into the alliances that landed it in the First World War, and a similar process is going on underground today. The BBC correspondent AlistairCooke once remarked that in Washington ceremonial gatherings are always being held in honour of foreign visitors to whom nobody has anything to say, while decisions are taken by small groups, often ...

Good enough for Jesus

Charlotte Brewer

25 January 1990
The State of the Language: 1990 Edition 
edited by Christopher Ricks and Leonard Michaels.
Faber, 531 pp., £17.50, January 1990, 9780571141821
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Clichés and Coinages 
by Walter Redfern.
Blackwell, 305 pp., £17.50, October 1989, 0 631 15691 7
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Rhetoric: The Wit of Persuasion 
by Walter Nash.
Blackwell, 241 pp., £25, October 1989, 0 631 16754 4
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... Nunberg has at his disposal some uniquely valuable evidence, the results of surveys dispatched by the American Heritage Dictionary to ‘members of the dictionary’s “usage panel”, (including AlistairCooke, Jessica Mitford, Margaret Atwood, Paul Theroux, Fay Weldon, Harold Bloom, Susan Sontag, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Isaac Asimov, Carl Sagan, Dwight Bolinger, Elizabeth Traugott and many more). What is ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I Didn’t Do in 2007

3 January 2008
... towns and cities, which he would then list. At the time I was less than impressed and probably rather prissy about this conflation of lust and topography – had I known about Brogan (a regular with AlistairCooke on Transatlantic Quiz), I might have treated Huggins with more respect. 11 January. Picture in the Guardian of an American soldier manning a gun in Baghdad, stencilled on the front of the gun a ...

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