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The Professor and the Madman Audiobook

The Professor and the Madman

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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential: This is a fascinating cubbyhole of literary history that plays like the best fiction: the most-prolific contributor to the Oxford English Dictionary turns out to be an imprisoned murderer. Listening to Simon Winchester's quirky and endearing narration, I found myself infected by his obvious enthusiasm for the story - and for the detective work it took to uncover it. —Steve Feldberg

Publisher's Summary

Hidden within the rituals of the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary is a fascinating mystery. Professor James Murray was the distinguished editor of the OED project. Dr. William Chester Minor, an American surgeon who had served in the Civil War, was one of the most prolific contributors to the dictionary, sending thousands of neat, hand-written quotations from his home. After numerous refusals from Minor to visit his home in Oxford, Murray set out to find him. It was then that Murray would finally learn the truth about Minor - that, in addition to being a masterly wordsmith, he was also an insane murderer locked up in Broadmoor, England's harshest asylum for criminal lunatics. The Professor and the Madman is the unforgettable story of the madness and genius that contributed to one of the greatest literary achievements in the history of English letters.

©1998 Simon Winchester; (P) 1999 HarperCollins Publishers Inc., All Rights Reserved, Harper Audio, A Division of HarperCollins Publishers

What the Critics Say

"The linguistic detective story of the decade." (New York Times Magazine)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (2265 )
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4.3 (1380 )
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Performance
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  •  
    B Rose Ivins, UT USA 02-22-15
    B Rose Ivins, UT USA 02-22-15 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    135
    ratings
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    161
    157
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    Story
    "Very interesting book!"
    Would you listen to The Professor and the Madman again? Why?

    No, once was enough.


    What other book might you compare The Professor and the Madman to and why?

    None


    What does Simon Winchester bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    He's a great narrator and brings life to the book.


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    How.a madman played such an important role of creating this dictionary.


    Any additional comments?

    I really wasn't sure if I'd like this. Being interested in and loving dictionaries, I thought I'd try it. I'm so happy I did! Even if not interested in dictionaries, it's still a great read!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joel R. Gerring Michigan 02-22-15
    Joel R. Gerring Michigan 02-22-15 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting and fascinating."

    Exceeded expectations. The author reading it himself is wonderful. The story is heartbreaking at certain points but with some redemption that Winchester highlights very well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David 02-08-15
    David 02-08-15 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    "Very interesting read"

    Overall very interesting story and well read. Learned much about lexicographer, a field that I did not know of prior to reading this book. Recommend for any that enjoy historical suspense.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. M. Batista 02-04-15 Member Since 2013

    José M. Batista

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Reality surpassing fiction"

    Revealing that a well-known politician from yesteryear had murdered someone and was insane would not be amaze a lot of people. That a person fitting that description would contribute voluminously to one of the most well-known reference works of all time is truly astonishing. A truly excellent book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carissa Hanson 02-02-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Fascinating"

    Well read, loved the music and the story was entirely entertaining. I expected it to be dry but it wasn't. I recommend this book highly.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    wingdinger 01-24-15
    wingdinger 01-24-15 Member Since 2012
    ratings
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    28
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    "Worth the listen, but nothing mind blowing"

    Great performance. Interesting enough story about an academic with mild schizophrenia that spends years compiling contributions for the oed. Interesting tidbits about lexicography. Worth the listen!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MiaK 01-16-15
    MiaK 01-16-15 Member Since 2013
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    4
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    Story
    "just ok"

    The book is OK, the story minorly interesting and the writing, though too academic and humorless, makes an easy listen. However I found absolutely infuriating the fact that the audible version includes over an hour of absolutely useless and boring extras - "acknowledgments", "suggested reading" and an interview with the author! So, instead of buying a 7 hour book, you are actually buying a 5 hour book and 2 hour "fillers". What a ripoff!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Justine PORTLAND, OR, United States 09-13-14
    Justine PORTLAND, OR, United States 09-13-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Brilliant"

    Wonderful narration by the author, extraordinarily interesting, well-told story in terms of the people, as well as the history of the Oxford English Dictionary.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Frederick Perth, Australia 04-30-14
    Frederick Perth, Australia 04-30-14 Member Since 2010

    Banjo

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    "Highly recommend."

    This is not just a dry record of the construction of the Oxford English Dictionary. A slice of social history that is sad and enjoyable throughout. Also very well read by the author.
    Thank you Simon Winchester.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    irene 11-09-13
    irene 11-09-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good listen"
    What made the experience of listening to The Professor and the Madman the most enjoyable?

    The well-rounded story surrounding the OED.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    The title says it all.


    Have you listened to any of Simon Winchester’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I downloaded 3 more of his books since this book.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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