America (Alistair Cooke)


America is a prolific documentary series that focuses on the history of the United States of America. The series host, Alistair Cooke, was foreign correspondent for the Manchester Guardian, based in New York, from 1947 until 1972. The series tells his personal journey through the history of his adopted homeland, it is so much a personal journey that in the opening titles of each episode the series calls itself: "America - A Personal History of the United States - By Alistair Cooke". The 13 episode series aired virtually simultaneously in the UK and in the USA, on BBC-2 and NBC respectively. In 1973, after the series had aired, Cooke was awarded an Emmy for "Individuals contributing to Documentary Programs" as well as receiving an honorary knighthood. Later, he was invited to address the joint Houses of the United States Congress as part of Congress's bicentennial celebrations.

Episode Description


The First Impact

Alistair Cooke explains his own fascination with the United States of America and tells the story of how he first came to the US and tells of the country that he found.


The New Found Land

Alistair Cooke travels back to the discovery of the American continent by the Europeans and follows the settlement of the Spanish in the Southern continent and the French in the far North of the continent and later their migration into their respective areas of a land now known as the United States.


Home From Home

In this episode of the series, Cooke tracks the English venture into the New World during the 16th and 17th centuries, from the initial inspiration through to the landing at Jamestown and beyond...


Making a Revolution

By the middle of the 18th century, the American nation was not a nation at all but a number of separately governed colonies. In this edition of America, Alistair Cooke explores the reasoning of the colonists in rising together against the British king and tells of the rise of a young colonial soldier called George Washington...


Inventing a Nation

Upon winning the War of Independence, the American colonists returned to their own independent colonies and settled down but all was not well. In this edition of America, Alistair Cooke discusses the coming together of the 13 independent colonies to form a new United States of America and how the men now known as the "Founding Fathers" went about inventing a nation.


Gone West

Cooke discusses where the West begins and how and why in the early 19th century the West was conquered by outsiders who, in the process of doing so, displaced the Native Americans.


A Firebell in the Night

In this episode, Cooke travels to the Southern States to explore the world of the 19th century slave and the causes and effects of one of the bloodiest and bitterest wars in history - the American Civil War.


Domesticating A Wilderness

In the 1840s over the crest of the Rockies there lay the first successful community West of the United States, the residents called it the City of the Saints, it's more commonly known as Salt Lake City. In the aftermath of the Civil War, Americans headed further West, Cooke follows in their footsteps...


Money on the Land

In the late 19th century, Americans started getting rich through business and technology. Alistair Cooke explores the rise of industry in the United States.


The Huddled Masses

Three quarters of the population of the United States who call themselves "the American people" are descendants of immigrants from Asia, Africa and, most of all, from Europe. What impact did the flood of immigrants to the US have at the beginning of the 20th century - Alistair Cooke takes an in-depth look.