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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 (3311 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Duane Leishman Los Luna's NM. 09-24-17
    Duane Leishman Los Luna's NM. 09-24-17 Member Since 2016
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    "A Hard Facet Of A Shinning Jewel Of A Book."

    A Look At An ..... Mind Gone Astray. Down A Very Dark Path. With Little Light Beyond His Insights Into His Studies... Work. Relentlessly Tortured... By Himself. A Difficult Existance In The Long Term.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bradley 09-17-17
    Bradley 09-17-17 Member Since 2017
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    8
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    Story
    "Simon Winchester does it again."

    I can't imagine where he continues to find these captivating tales. Why must I always place 15 words when less will do ?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer T. Earth 08-04-17
    Jennifer T. Earth 08-04-17 Member Since 2014
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    6
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    "This was a fascinating reading."

    Don't let the word "dictionary" fool you. There was nothing boring about this terrifically researched book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roland P. Whitcomb Jr. Mounds View, MN USA 07-31-17
    Roland P. Whitcomb Jr. Mounds View, MN USA 07-31-17 Member Since 2017
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    3
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    Story
    "Quite a surprise"

    I don't know why I bought this and I almost gave up in the third chapter. I'm glad I didn't. There are so many dimensions to the book: lexicography, of course, but also mental health, criminology and many broader social issues. I'm glad, too, that I got the Audible edition. The Reader makes the story much better.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Louise 07-04-17
    Louise 07-04-17 Member Since 2013
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    "Not as good as a novel but interesting material"
    Would you recommend The Professor and the Madman to your friends? Why or why not?

    I'd be more inclined to tell my friends about the book than actually recommend that they read it too.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Simon Winchester?

    This author narrates his own work better than most.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gypsi 06-11-17
    Gypsi 06-11-17
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    "Both Interesting and Entertaining"

    This book follows the lives of two men influential in the preparation of the Oxford English Dictionary: Dr. W. C. Minor and Professor James Murray. Dr. Minor, convicted of murder and sentenced to a life long stay in an institution for the criminally insane, became a volunteer for Professor Murray as Murray oversaw the creation of the OED. Winchester tells the life stories of both men, a brief history of lexicography, and an also brief account of the making of the OED. This is a fascinating tale, highly readable and generally entertaining.

    Winchester reads the book himself, and while not a particularly lively reader, does a solid job.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lori Hanson Eau Claire, WI 05-15-17
    Lori Hanson Eau Claire, WI 05-15-17 Member Since 2012
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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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    5
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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

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