Synopses & Reviews
In nearly three thousand BBC broadcasts over fifty-eight years, Alistair Cooke reported on America, revealing our country's complexities and idiosyncrasies to a global audience. He was one of the most widely read and widely read and widely heard chroniclers of America--the Twentieth Century's de Tocqueville. Shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, Cooke, a newly naturalized American citizen, set out to see his country as it was undergoing monumental change. He wanted to see what the war had done to people, to the towns I might go through, to some jobs and crops, to stretches of landscape I loved and had seen at peace; and to let significance fall where it might. Working throughout the war, Cooke finished the manuscript for The American Home Front as the atomic bomb was being dropped on Hiroshima. His publisher at the time thought there would be little interest in books on the war, and so it was stuffed in a closet. It stayed there for almost sixty years, nearly forgotten, until it was unearthed shortly before Cooke's death. The American Home Front is a celebration of the American character and a fitting testament to a fine journalist (The Bookseller UK]). It is a fascinating artifact, a charming travelogue, and a sharp portrait that shows a nation switching from civilian pursuits to military engagement, from the production of consumer goods to materials of war. It is also a unique record of American life. Cooke travels small highways, with their advertising signs and their local topography, in an age before the interstate highway system. He chronicles the regional glories he encounters, elements of long-lost culture such as his beloved soda fountains, and the reactionsof the citizens, from indifference to grief, from opportunism to resilience under military threat. Filled with touching personal stories of the effects of war, from a Japanese family facing internment that tries to sell Cooke their car, to the experiences of the unemployed relocating in hopes of jobs in a gunpowder factory, The American Home Front is the work of an experienced, talented journalist; it is intelligent, touching, and funny.
A New York Times Bestseller
and#147;An unexpected and welcome discovery in a time capsule. . . . even after all these years, and all those countless previous books about the wartime home front, Cooke has interesting things to tell us.and#8221; and#150;Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post
and#147;He filed lated, but boy, did he get it right.and#8221; and#150;William Grimes, The New York Times
and#147;The American Home Front teems with Cookeand#8217;s eloquence and insightand#133;. His whole book is a tale told with easy elegance.and#8221; and#150;Harry Levins, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
and#147;Here are the antecedents of who we are now, grasped with a clarity and foresight that is all the more stunning for having been hidden away in a closet for nearly sixty years.and#8221; and#150;Verlyn Klinkenborg, Bookforum
Unearthed shortly before Cookes death, this unique record of American life shows a nation switching from civilian pursuits to military engagement, and from the production of consumer goods to materials of war.
In nearly three thousand BBC broadcasts over fifty-eight years, Alistair Cooke reported on America, illuminating our country for a global audience. He was one of the most widely read and widely heard chroniclers of Americaand#151;the Twentieth Centuryand#8217;s de Tocqueville. Cooke died in 2004, but shortly before he passed away a long-forgotten manuscript resurfaced in a closet in his New York apartment. It was a travelogue of America during the early days of World War II that had sat there for sixty years. Published to stellar reviews in 2006, though and#147;somewhat past deadline,and#8221; Cookeand#8217;s The American Home Front is a and#147;valentine to his adopted country by someone who loved it as well as anyone and knew it better than mostand#8221; (The Plain Dealer [Cleveland]). It is a unique artifact and a historical gem, and#147;an unexpected and welcome discover in a time capsule.and#8221; (Washington Post) A portrait frozen in time, the book offers a charming look at the war through small towns, big cities, and the American landscape as they once were. The American Home Front is also a brilliant piece of reportage, a historical gem that and#147;affirms Cookeand#8217;s enduring place as a great twentieth-century reporterand#8221; (American Heritage).