Michael Portillo’s 19th-century Appleton’s guidebook leads him to the Parker House Hotel, where in his best pinny, he whisks up a Boston cream pie.
In the fine dome atop Massachusetts General Hospital, where no-one could hear the screaming, Michael discovers the scene of grisly surgery, first made bearable in 1846 by a miraculous new substance. North of Boston, in Salem, Michael is caught up in a witch hunt. He gets a taste of the hysteria which gripped the town in the 17th century and how events were re-interpreted at the time of his guide.
And in Concord, where the first shots of the American Revolution were fired, Michael discovers the home of the celebrated author of the coming of age classic Little Women and hears the story behind the novel.