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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of The Oxford English Dictionary

The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of The Oxford English Dictionary

2 Ratings: 4.0
A book by Simon Winchester

When the editors of theOxford English Dictionaryput out a call during the late 19th century pleading for "men of letters" to provide help with their mammoth undertaking, hundreds of responses came forth. Some helpers, like Dr. W.C. Minor, provided … see full wiki

Tags: Books, History, True Crime, British History, Oxford University Press, Oxford English Dictionary, see all
Author: Simon Winchester
Genre: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Reference
Publisher: Harper Perennial
2 reviews about The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of...
review by . August 03, 2008
Absent the anti-Christian bias of his geological disaster books, Winchester writes a very good tale about a fascinating sidebar of history during the compilation of the OED. The madman was an American military surgeon (son of missionaries to Sri Lanka!) who served in the Union army during the Civil War, whose slow spiral to insanity culminated in the shooting of an innocent man in London 15 years later. The professor was the editor of the OED who corresponded with the madman for 20 years at the …
review by . August 07, 2006
Some readers, I know, dislike Simon Winchester's conversational, discursive, sometimes off-on-a-tangent narrative style, but I for one find it richly rewarding. I first discovered it in "Krakatoa," his book about that Indonesian volcano where it's even more in evidence than it is in this title. But even here, reading Winchester is like settling into a chair, or around a fire, to listen to a talented storyteller weave an entrancing tale. If your taste in history runs to deliberate, just-the-facts …
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