This is a beautifully crafted book that tracks the history of the railways in Britain from Stephenson through to the early 2000's. It relates the days of early scepticism and opposition, through the rush for railway construction of the mid-1800s, to competition and consolidation, the push for speed and consequent concerns over safety, growing unionisation, wartime heroics, decline, nationalisation, the end of steam, Beeching, British Rail in its prime and, finally, the horrifically botched privatisation of the 1990s and its consequences.. A vast amount of literature exists about the railways in Britain, with books appearing to have been written on virtually every possible aspect of it. Christian Wolmar's skill lies in drawing from that vast canon of work, distilling and shaping the best bits and adding his own strong views where appropriate, such as with the botched privatisation of British Rail. Although the book will undoubtedly appeal to railway enthusiasts, it should also appeal to a much wider readership, including those who enjoy tales of real life adventure, travel, romanticism, business and entrepreneurship, government, as well as social and cultural history. In writing a book with such wide appeal the author has done the railways in Britain a real service.