Setting off from New York

Listen in pop-out player

Alvin Hall sets off on a roadtrip through the USA revisiting Cooke's Letter from America.

Letter from America was Alistair Cooke's weekly radio broadcast that ran continuously for 58 years on the BBC, from 1946 to 2004. The BBC will be making available the entire archive - over 900 programmes - on the Radio 4 website, from November 1st. Cooke had set himself a challenge that seemed deceptively simple: to explain the United States to Britain and the world. His Letters achieved that and more. He was an acute observer, a marvellous story teller, a man who loved America but saw it in intensely clear terms - a country that was both great and sometimes terribly flawed in its greatness.

All the major issues, all the significant stories were grist for his writer's mill. The Korean War and the Cold War, desegregation, the assassinations of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King, the fall of Nixon, the rise of Reaganomics, immigration, September 11 and the George W Bush presidency.

But eight years after his death are the Letters still relevant? For Alvin Hall, the answer is emphatically yes. Crisscrossing America he tests the insights and observations of Cooke on subjects as diverse as desegregation and jazz, the American Dream and immigration. And Hall discovers that Alistair Cooke remains as fresh and insightful as he ever was when he wrote and spoke over all those years about an America he loved and understood so well. Alvin Hall is an internationally renowned financial educator, television and radio broadcaster, bestselling author, and regular contributor to magazines, newspapers, and websites. He is an unabashed admirer of Alistair Cooke and Letter from America.

Available now

15 minutes

Last on

Tue 6 Nov 2012 09:30

Featured in...

Discover more programmes

The Statue of Liberty

The best of Radio 4: opinion pieces, history, international reporting, books and culture.

Added. Check out your playlist Dismiss