Conceived as a showcase for Britain's burgeoning manufacturing industries and the exotic products of its Empire, the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace was Britain's first truly national spectacle. Michael Leapman explores how the exhibition came into being; the key characters who made it happen (from Prince Albert, who was credited with the idea, to Thomas Cook, whose cheap railway trips ensured its accessibility to all); and the fascinating tales behind the exhibits that fired the imagination of the era. 'The best kind of popular history: exact, imaginative and full of fun.' Sunday Telegraph Splendid... Michael Leapman brings a child's delight to the wonders of the Exhibition and his enthusiastic prose makes his readers feel they are almost walking down its aisles.' Mail on Sunday Entertaining and engaging' Independent

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