In early eighteenth-century Britain, nothing but stretches of dirt track ran between most towns. Rain-soaked ruts and eroding banks rendered them impassible much of the year. By 1848 Britain's primitive roads were transformed into a network of forty-foot-wide highways connecting every village and island in the nation--and also dividing them in unforeseen ways. In Roads to Power, Jo Guldi refutes the traditional tale of how better roads made better neighbors and how the transport revolution unified the English, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish into a common and commercial people. In fact, few issues divided Britain as much as transport and trade. The highway network led to contests for control over problems ranging from road management to market access. Peripheries like the Highlands demanded that centralized government pay for roads they could not afford, while English counties argued for a localism that would spare them from underwriting roads to Scotland. The new infrastructure also transformed social relationships. When tradesmen, Methodist preachers, soldiers, and entertainers took to the highway, travelers and townspeople alike felt vulnerable, and mistrust grew. Coaches, inns, and guidebooks isolated better-off travelers from encounters with strangers, furthering class division. Bureaucratic expansion led to social as well as civil engineering, in the form of state-designed sewers and slum clearance projects. In debates between centralist and localist approaches, Britons posited two visions of community: one centralized, expert-driven, and technological, and the other local, informal, and libertarian. These two visions lie at the heart of today's debates over infrastructure, development, and communication.