During his broadcasting career Alistair Cooke met and knew some of the twentieth century's most fascinating and legendary figures, in journalism, politics, public life, sport and film. This is his highly personal and revealing account of six remarkable men who crossed Cooke's path during his lifetime and who, each in their own way, made a lasting impression on him. Here are candid portraits of the lovable yet unreliable Charlie Chaplin, who, when asked to be Cooke's best man, mysteriously vanished on the day; the complex and private man behind Humphrey Bogart's tough guy image; and the charming yet childlike 'golden boy' Edward VIII. Cooke also recalls his friend and mentor, the flawed contrarian and satirist H.L. Mencken, the larger-than-life liberal politician Adlai Stevenson and the heroic social reformer Bertrand Russell. Each superbly realized portrait gives us an insight into a golden age of 'great men', and is a masterpiece of observation, warmth and humour.
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Alistair Cooke enjoyed an extraordinary life in print, radio and television. Born in Manchester in 1908 and educated at the universities of Cambridge, Yale and Harvard, he was the Guardian’s Senior Correspondent in New York for twenty-five years and the host of groundbreaking cultural programmes on American television and of the BBC series America. He was, however, best known both at home and abroad for his weekly BBC broadcast Letter from America, which reported on fifty-eight years of US life, was heard over five continents and totalled 2,869 broadcasts before his retirement in February 2004, far and away the longest-running radio series in broadcasting history.
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