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The creation of the Oxford English Dictionary began in 1857, took seventy years to complete, drew from tens of thousands of brilliant minds, and organized the sprawling language into 414,825 precise definitions. But hidden within the rituals of its creation is a fascinating and mysterious story—a story of two remarkable men whose strange twenty-year relationship lies at the core of this historic undertaking.
Professor James Murray, an astonishingly learned former schoolmaster and bank clerk, was the distinguished editor of the OED project. Dr. William Chester Minor, an American surgeon from New Haven, Connecticut, who had served in the Civil War, was one of thousands of contributors who submitted illustrative quotations of words to be used in the dictionary. But Minor was no ordinary contributor. He was remarkably prolific, sending thousands of neat, handwritten quotations from his home in the small village…[more]
Rising in the Mountains of the Tibetan Border, the River That many regard as the symbolic heart of China pierces 3,900 miles of rugged country before debouching into the oily swells of the East China Sea. Connecting China’s heartland cities with the volatile coastal giant Shanghai, the Yangtze has also historically connected China to the outside world through its nearly one thousand miles of navigable waters. To travel the vast extent of the river is to travel back in history, to sense the soul of China, and this Simon Winchester does, taking us along with him as he encounters the very essence of China—its history and politics, its geography, climate, and culture, and above all its people, many of them in remote and almost inaccessible places. This is travel writing at its best: lively, informative, and thoroughly engaging.