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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 (3092 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Lori Hanson Eau Claire, WI 05-15-17
    Lori Hanson Eau Claire, WI 05-15-17 Member Since 2012

    Civil War Nut LH

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fact is stranger than fiction"
    Any additional comments?

    I first listened to this book on cassette (library's copy) about a dozen years ago. I liked it so much, that a couple of years later when I came across the paper version in a book store, I bought it. Then it went on sale at Audible and I bought it again. It's worth it. I've listened to it a few times since I bought it. It gives the reader a brief glimpse into the horrors of the Civil War and the influence they had over a young doctor who was not emotionally equipped to handle them.

    The author's narration was terrific. I thoroughly enjoyed the accent and the pace. No dragging here.

    Since I love to look things up, the history of the making of a dictionary was right up my alley. I'm also a student of the Civil War so that, too, was interesting. My favorite part of the book would be a spoiler, so here's my challenge to someone reading this review. Listen to it yourself and see if you can guess!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    julie 04-22-17
    julie 04-22-17 Member Since 2014
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    "Fascinating Journey thru the making of the O.E.D"

    Narrated by the English author, the audio book version makes the mayhem and madness of this lexicologist' s dream all the more engrossing....you'll never look at a dictionary the same way again :^)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CJFLA 04-21-17
    CJFLA 04-21-17
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    "Very good book"
    If you could sum up The Professor and the Madman in three words, what would they be?

    Truth is always stranger than fiction and this book is a prime example. This is a really interesting history on the authoritative book of the English language. Very enjoyable.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    charles m. mallin 04-15-17 Member Since 2015
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    "The Professor and the Madman"

    I loved this book! It's eloquent and beautifully constructed. The detail of the making of the OED was fascinating. From the description of the little pieces of paper on which words were defined to the investigation of the doctor' illness, I found the tale compelling and at times heartbreaking. Beautifully written. Beautifully performed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Williams 04-14-17
    J. Williams 04-14-17
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    "Very interesting story that is well told."

    Narration was perfect, and I will likely listen to it again. The story was interesting enough to keep me in my car longer than necessary. Such a sad tale of a man who struggles with mental health, but at the same time was able to contribute in a big way to the history of the English language.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Drew B. 04-08-17
    Drew B. 04-08-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Fascinating history of Oxford dictionary"

    Very interesting history of the Oxford English Dictionary. The title led me to believe it would read more like a mystery novel which it definitely is not. The story revolves around the genesis of the OED and is very well written albeit the title is slightly misleading. Fun to listen to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carol Joyce Pittsford, NY, United States 04-05-17
    Carol Joyce Pittsford, NY, United States 04-05-17
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    "Word Enthusiast's Story"

    I found the subject of the story interesting. It was , however, for the most part, dry and at times a boring. The most interesting part , for me, was about the madman. I wondered if modern day medicine would have been a help to Dr. Miner.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J-me 04-03-17
    J-me 04-03-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Brilliant history."

    If you have a passion for words this history will fascinate you. So well written and beautifully read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephanie Loomis 03-21-17 Member Since 2015
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    "Nerdy like me"

    I love this approach to shat should be dry reference. The English teacher in me enjoyed the etymological side, while my storytelling side preferred the narrative.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    R. Jones 03-20-17
    R. Jones 03-20-17 Member Since 2015
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    "terrific listen"

    I really enjoyed this book. It being read by the author makes it all the better. A very compelling story!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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