The 231163 Diaries:
Alistair Cooke.



Radio Alistair Cooke was a British-American journalist, television personality and broadcaster (he's pictured above in New York in the late 1960s with his wife Jane).

The edition of his Letter from America broadcast at 7:30pm the 24th November inevitably considers the assassination of JFK and is available to listen to on the BBC website.


There is also a transcript and although its too long to be copied here, this section addresses directly what it must have been like in the US over that weekend.

If we pause and run over the record of the very slow translation of these ideals into law – the hairbreadth defeat of the medical care for the aged plan, the shelving (after a year of strenuous labour) of the tax bill, the perilous reluctance of the Congress to tame the negro revolution now with a civil rights law – we have to admit that the clear trumpet sound of the Kennedy inaugural has been sadly soured down three short years.

Any intelligent American family sitting around a few weeks ago would have granted these deep disappointments, and many thoughtful men were beginning to wonder if the president’s powers were not a mockery of his office, since he can be thwarted from getting any laws passed at all by the simple obstructionism of a dozen chairmen of Congressional committees, most of them by the irony of a seniority system that gives more and more power to old men who keep getting re-elected by the same states, most of them from the south.

But that same American family sitting around this weekend could live with these disappointments, but not with the great one, the sense that the new generation born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage, unwilling to witness or permit was struck down lifeless, unable to witness or permit or not to permit anything.

When it’s possible to be reasonable, we will all realise, calling on our everyday fatalism, that if John Kennedy was 46 and his brother in his late thirties, most of the men around him were in their fifties and some in their sixties, and that therefore we fell for a day or two in November 1963 into a sentimental fit. However, we are not yet reasonable. The self-protective fatalism, which tells most of us that what has been must be, has not yet restored us to the humdrum course of life.  [Source.]

Cooke would later be an eyewitness to the murder of Bobby Kennedy in 1968 while he was The Guardian's Chief US Correspondent.  The paper has published his dispatch along with related archive materials.

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