In My Hands Today…

The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary – Simon Winchester

The Professor and the Madman, masterfully researched and eloquently written, is an extraordinary tale of madness, genius, and the incredible obsessions of two remarkable men that led to the making of the Oxford English Dictionary — and literary history.

The compilation of the OED, begun in 1857, was one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken. As definitions were collected, the overseeing committee, led by Professor James Murray, discovered that one man, Dr. W. C. Minor, had submitted more than ten thousand.

When the committee insisted on honoring him, a shocking truth came to light: Dr. Minor, an American Civil War veteran, was also an inmate at an asylum for the criminally insane.

In My Hands Today…

The River at the Center of the World: A Journey Up the Yangtze & Back in Chinese Time – Simon Winchester

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Rising in the mountains of the Tibetan border, the Yangtze River, 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, it has also historically connected China to the outside world through its nearly one thousand miles of navigable waters.

To travel those waters is to travel back in history, to sense the soul of China, and Simon Winchester takes us along with him as he encounters the essence of China–its history and politics, its geography and climate as well as engage in its culture, and its people in remote and almost inaccessible places.