'Letter from America': An Archive of Stories Connecting America and Britain

Monday, December 10, 2012

For 58 years, BBC radio host Alistair Cooke hosted "Letter from America" on the BBC. The show broadcast weekly from 1946 to 2004, and became a singular and unique source of information for Britons on their neighbors across the pond. 

Cooke's program chronicled Americans' daily lives and how they changed over time. On January 19, 1951, in an episode titled "Television in America," Cooke explained "how a new daily diet of television in America is changing people's lives." 

"Letter from America" also covered every major news event in the United States since between 1946 and 2004, including the JFK assassination, the Challenger explosion, the terrorist attacks on 9/11, and many more. 

The BBC and Boston University recently compiled an archive of Cooke's shows and scripts, and broadcaster Alvin Hall explored "Letter from America" in a series of programs, looking at American culture (through British eyes) in the 1940s, '50s and '60s.

Guests:

Alvin Hall

Produced by:

Rupert Allman

Comments [2]

gerry from Connecticut

Alvin Hill knows little of Boston history. Busing was about social class warfare NOT racial bigotry. Wealthy and connected liberals had no problem forcing lower middle class kids to be bused. Their kids stayed in the leafy suburbs such as Wellesley---no blacks in sight,even today. I really was there. Mr. Hill continues to purport the "easy explanation" that is to blame the regular working class people. His arrogant opinions on the work of Cooke are little more than a forum for his ideology. Get real with this guy, John.

Dec. 10 2012 11:24 AM
listener

Despite the usual references to race and geography, one thing Boston and the deep South had in common was belonging to a Democratic Party machine that instills a social entitlement mentality and a fierce arrogance that tends to blind one to decency and logic and encourages intolerance of those who disagree.
Cooke represented a particular immigrant generation from a particular nation and his commentaries were ones of largely affection rather than contempt.

Dec. 10 2012 10:29 AM

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