Michael Portillo embarks on a brand new railway adventure crisscrossing the heartland of Europe to examine the continent as it was before the First World War.
The 1913 edition of Bradshaw's Continental Railway Guide is never far from hand as Michael journeys through the prosperous lands of emperors and kings, pomp and elegance.
Never far from this gilded surface is an underlying current of revolution, repression, poverty and pollution as Michael explores the mines and factories that fed the wealth of nations and pushed the labouring millions to the brink of uproar.
The journeys encompassed in this fascination series are: London to Monte Carlo; Hungary to Austria; Berlin to The Rhine; Switzerland; Amsterdam to Northern France.
As is his wont Michael stays in the hotels recommended by Bradshaw, explores the magnificent sights, samples local traditions, takes in many of the continent's most spectacular rail routes and visits some of the central locations in the unfolding Great War story.
This series creates a stunning vision of Europe as it was in 1913, and discovers how a way of life and a landscape were changed forever when Europe went to war.