hmmm, I'm a Winchester (partial-) sceptic. in shortest possible terms, if an educated person is locked up in an insane asylum, why wouldn't they participate heavily in an academic project requiring detailed search through old texts? I'm not sure that I'm shocked and dazed by the central animating premise of this book, that the OED was written, (1) by an Oxford professor, but also (2) by an incarcerated asylum inmate; whether, in short, the existence of strange or bizarre personalities even in staid institutions or in eventually ultimate establishment projects is dramatic or noteworthy. I came to Winchester late; I've seen [b:Krakatoa|25017|Krakatoa The Day the World Exploded|Simon Winchester|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348890801s/25017.jpg|2084098] in bookstores, and did the "p. 147 test,"--viz, open the book to page 147 and see if it's interesting or not, which unfortunately given the price of even softcovers at bookstore these days ($15, $20?) was a little bland/disorganized for my tastes. then the Amazon ebook sale occured, and I picked up [b:The Man Who Loved China|2763494|The Man Who Loved China The Fantastic Story of the Eccentric Scientist Who Unlocked the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom|Simon Winchester|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1348219384s/2763494.jpg|10010357] and that was taut, tightly-written, even suspenseful, and so I've done the $3.99 search and found Apple iBooks, BN.com, possibly Kobo, and amazon all doing something at that pricepoint.
what can I say. when you're waiting for a visa to go through, spending a month in an asian country, you value the $3 books you can get.
...so, coming soon, a review of Winchester's "british aristocracy" or whatever it's titled...
it's a mystery to me why this book has 35000 ratings and is Winchester's hit. is it because the OED is a fairly obscure topic and may be many people's introduction to its even existence? (majoring in/reading English, I was forced into OED lookups by age 19) so I dunno. this was okay. it dragged at points. but it was worth 1.99 USD