1914 dawned with Britain at peace, albeit troubled by faultlines within and threats without: Ireland trembled on the brink of civil war; suffragette agitation was assuming an ever more violent hue; and suspicions of Germany's ambitions bred a paranoia expressed in a rash of 'invasion scare' literature.
Then when shots rang out in Sarajevo on 28 June, they set in train a tumble of diplomatic dominos that led to Britain declaring war on Germany.
Nigel Jones depicts every facet of a year that changed Britain for ever. From gun-running in Ulster to an attack by suffragettes on a Velasquez painting in the National Gallery; from the launch of HMHS Britannic to cricketer J.T. Hearne's 3000th first-class wicket; from the opening of London's first nightclub to the embarking for Belgium of the BEF, he traces the events of a momentous year from its benign domestic beginnings to its descent into the nightmare of European war.