Alistair Cooke's American Journey:
Life On The Home Front In The Second World War (paperback)
Format: 153 x 234mm
Territory: UK & British Commonwealth (Penguin Press), North America (Grove Atlantic Press)
Alistair Cooke's lost manuscript, finally in print for the first time.
Rediscovered by the author just prior to his death in 2004, this unpublished 'time capsule' is a remarkable introduction to the challenges that faced America at the start of a war long thought avoidable.
Alistair Cooke, then a Washington correspondent for The Guardian, recognized a great story to be told in reviewing first-hand the effects of an abrupt transition from peacetime to wartime, from pacifism to patriotism, from neutrality to belligerence and the impact upon the daily lives of Americans as they adjusted to radically new circumstances. Within weeks of the Pearl Harbor attack, with a reporter's zeal Cooke set off on a circuit of the entire country 'to see what the war had done to people'. He talked to everyone he encountered on his extensive trip, from miners to lumberjacks, to Pullman porters, to warprofiteers, to day-labourers, to local politicians - even the unfortunate Japanese-Americans who had been rapidly interned in stark, desert camps.
Intertwined with his reflections on changing landscapes and cityscapes and with his unique storytelling skills and insight, his acute ability to define detail and catch the sounds and syntax of different regional accents, this is Alistair Cooke moving into his prime as a reporter and a writer. His prescient observations on what was happening at grassroots and considerations on where America was headed provide a clearer understanding of a critical moment in world history just prior to the dropping of the Atomic bomb. This unique travelogue celebrates an essential American character and the indomitable spirit of a nation that was to inspire Cooke's reports and broadcasts for some 60 years.
Read our profile of Alistair Cooke