On January 8th, 1815, 5300 British troops attacked 4500 entrenched and prepared Americans outside New Orleans. In a battle lasting half an hour, the British suffered casualties totalling 2036. American casualties were 21. It remains to this day the worst defeat in the whole long history of the British Army. But the battle affected the outcome of the war not a bit, for the war was already over and had been for two weeks. A treaty of peace had been signed in Ghent on 24th December, to take immediate effect everywhere upon receipt of the news. Today, in a world in which news, complete with live pictures, flashes around the globe in an instant, time lags such as this are almost inconceivable. No one then thought the situation might be more than marginally improved, or that the US would ever be anything but remote from Europe, the centre of world affairs. But only 40 years later, a group of extraordinary men decided to use the emerging technology of telegraphy to bridge the Atlantic and unite the Old and New Worlds. "A Thread across the Ocean" tells the story of their epic struggle, one that would requite a decade of effort, millions of dollars in capital, the solution of innumerable technological problems - many of them entirely unforeseen before work commenced - and uncommon physical, financial and intellectural courage. But when they were done, these men had changed the world.