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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.