RADIO | När presidentkandidat Robert F. Kennedy mördades på Ambassador Hotell i Los Angeles fanns den engelske radioprofilen Alistair Cook på plats.
Ett samarbete med Boston University, som äger Cookes kvarlämnade papper, gör det också möjligt att läsa hans maskinskrivna manuskript, med redaktionella ändringa och allt.
Avsnittet där Cook berättade om händelserna på Ambassador Hotell sändes den 9 juni, fyra dagar efter mordet på Kennedy.
Kennedy var förhandstippad att bli demokraternas presidentkandidat. I primärvalet i Kalifornien den 4 juni besegrade han Eugene McCarthy.
Efter ett kort segertal strax efter midnatt den 5 på Ambassador Hotel mödades han av Sirhan Sirhan, en palestinier med jordanskt medborgarskap.
Så här skriver Kate Chisholm i The Spectator om denna radioutsändning och hans unika stil:
It takes Alistair Cooke three minutes, or about 450 words, before he finally gets round to declaring ‘I was there’ — on the night that Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June 1968. Cooke was talking just a few days later on his weekly Letter from America slot on Radio 4. You might think Cooke would not have been able to contain his excitement that after 30 years on the job as a foreign correspondent he had at last actually been there as an eye-witness to this dramatic ‘accidental convulsion of history’. But, no, Cooke, as the ultimate professional, understood that for us, his listeners, the impact of his account would be enhanced 300 per cent if he gave us a preamble, a slow build. So he begins that extraordinary letter by explaining how it’s too often assumed that foreign correspondents are always there on the spot when bad things happen. Life’s not like that, says Cooke, and it was only by ‘one casual chance in a thousand’ that he found himself not just inside the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, which was jam-packed full of Democrat supporters, but also standing in the small serving pantry that Kennedy was just about to walk through when he was shot.
Cooke began delivering his talks from America on 24 March 1946, and never stopped until ill-health forced him to give up, aged 95 (he died three weeks later). Now, as part of BBC Radio’s 90th birthday celebrations, we can Listen Again to many of these letters.
Bild: En kampanjaffisch som bjuder in till segerfesten på Ambassador Hotell i Los Angeles den 4 juni 1968