To a modern visitor nothing will seem more British than a classic country house like Cliveden or Leeds Castle. But the truth is actually very different. That such fabulous places exist in their present form - or in the case of, say, Blenheim, survive in the ownership of the family - is as much as anything down to American money and taste. Now, for the first time, Clive Aslet's magnificent book reveals the extent of this remarkable phenomenon. Covering eighteen Americans and their houses - from the captivating May Goelet and Floors Castle in Scotland to the big game hunter Willie James and West Dean Park on the south coast - he illustrates the varied destinies by which stupendously wealthy Americans ended up owning great stately piles, and the variety of transformations they wrought upon them. What became known as the 'country house look' was codified by an American - Nancy Lancaster. The greatest of early twentieth-century gardens, Hidcote, was created by an American, Lawrence Johnston. It was an American romance - with Wallis Simpson at Fort Belvedere - that caused Edward VIII to abdicate. Illustrated throughout with magnificent photographs, An Exuberant Catalogue of Dreams is a fascinating chronicle of how it happened that, as Gladstone's Chancellor of the Exchequer remarked in 1898, 'We are all Americans now'.