A very interesting tale, for those who are interested in the quaint and unusual, or in the history of the English language. This book chronicles the lives of two of the key contributors to the monumental acheivement known as the Oxford English Dictionary; Professor Murray, its first truly effective editor, and Dr. Minor, a schizophrenic American who contributed greatly to the content of the dictionary from his cell in an English asylum for the criminally insane.
While the book is worth a read, be forewarned: Winchester tends to be overly verbose and the text can drag at times--especially towards the end, with its several additional chapters.
This is a wonderful, and slightly twisted, book on the making of the Oxford English Dictionary. It's full of history and all sorts of interesting linguistic tidbits for other geeks like me.
Being a lover of words I really enjoyed a look into some of the history of the OED.
Good story of how an inmate of an asylum contributed to the Oxford English Dictionary.
The fascinating and poignant story of the Oxford English Dictionary and two similar, yet very different in circumstance, men whose lives would likely never have crossed except for their work on the OED. Although I had heard the story of the 'lunatic American doctor' who contributed reams of information for the OED, I still found myself riveted to the sad story (and occasional salacious detail in my opinion). As a word geek myself, I have a love/hate affair with dictionaries and yes, there are times when I just sit down and read a few pages. The incredible undertaking and vast scope of the project is obvious when you view the dictionary itself in its multiple-volume splendor, but I tend to forget that most Americans have likely never actually seen one in person. So of course, I found the story of the dictionary itself interesting and worthwhile reading, but combined with the inexplicable mystery of how and why the 'madman' was in a situation that enabled him to contribute so much...it just boggles the mind. "The Professor and the Madman" by Simon Winchester is well worth your time and a fun, educational read.