Special Relationships

If I had another lifetime at my disposal, here’s a book I’d like to write.

Special Relationships: British Sages in America

A history of American infatuation with wise men from Great Britain, structured by changes in technology. In all cases the book trade is essential, but it forms alliances with other technologies: first the lecture tour, then (thanks especially to the Luce empire) the magazine, and finally television. It’s possible that radio would need a chapter, but at the moment my sense is that radio was always more important as a way for Brits to understand America, e.g. Alastair Cooke’s “Letter from America.”

General outline with key figures:

Part 1: The Age of the Lecture

  • Charles Dickens
  • Oscar Wilde
  • G. K. Chesterton

Part 2: The Age of the Magazine

  • C. S. Lewis
  • Arnold Toynbee

Part 3: The Age of Television

  • Kenneth Clark
  • J. Bronowski
  • James Burke

Afterword: The End of an Era

  • Christopher Hitchens