Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Professor and the Madman - Book Review

The Professor and the Madman (USA)
The Surgeon of Crowthorne (UK)
Harper Collins 1999
Reissued 2005

As I have mentioned previously, I like Simon Winchester. He has a knack for finding unusual stories and gems in history and writing good books about them. This is the story of how the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) was created.

I LOVE reading historical factual stories such as this one. One can learn much from books like this. And any book from which I learn something new, is a good book in my opinion.

A few things I liked about this book:

1. One will assuredly learn a thing or two about the English language, in reading it. You will learn some obsolete words, the origin of some words, and just get a refresher of other, more common words. Each chapter begins with a dictionary entry of a particular word, some very normal words, some more exotic words.

2. The parallel lives of the two main characters are interesting to follow. One feels real emotions for both. There are a few shocking moments in the book, which stand out quite a bit in front of the otherwise fairly tame narrative.

3.I always wondered how they compiled all the words in a dictionary. It was great to learn how they did that.

4. The book covers an array of themes and topics, and a fairly diverse geography. Mental illness, civil war, sexual propriety, crime and punishment, one can learn a little bit about a lot of issues in the reading of Simon Winchester's book.

Overall, though, this book was a nice, quick read, a good plot, and you will learn a thing or two from it. I enjoyed it very much.

I read this book for the Bibliophilic Challenge

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