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Overthe course of his distinguished career as a foreign correspondent, whichspanned more than sixty years, Alistair Cooke had known, interviewed, orreported on literally hundreds of the most influential men and women of thetwentieth century. Here he has collected his memories of more than a score ofthem: they include actors and generals, statesmen and eccentrics, a poet, ajazzman, an intensely scholarly woman and a casually funny one, an architect, apublisher, and several politicians-all of whom, in Cooke's view, have left theworld a better or more interesting place. Here, then, arescintillating portraits of characters as far apart as George Bernard Shaw andDuke Ellington, as different as the humorist Erma Bombeck and the Nobel Prizewinner Barbara McClintock. Recounting the trials of Sir Francis Chichester, thelonely global yachtsman, or analyzing the very different but equallyindomitable spirit of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Alistair Cooke allows us tounderstand a little better the nature of courage. His fond and sensitiverecollections of P. G. Wodehouse and Gary Cooper salute two unpretentiousgeniuses in the ostentatious world of entertainment. His account of his longand relaxed weekend with President Dwight Eisenhower is sensitive andrevealing, as is his candid but compassionate portrait of an earlier president,Franklin D. Roosevelt. His meeting with Ronald Reagan during the futurepresident's early years as governor of California is as insightful as it isprescient. The book ends with moving and memorable portraits of two men Cookeespecially admires, for different reasons: one, Winston Churchill, who for allhis human flaws was "most certainly great," and the other, BobbyJones, whom Cooke regards as "one of the three or four finest human beingsI've ever known."