From the best-selling author of The Professor and the Madman, The Map That Changed the World, and Krakatoa comes a truly wonderful celebration of the English language and of its unrivaled treasure house, the Oxford English Dictionary.
Writing with marvelous brio, Winchester first serves up a lightning history of the English language--"so vast, so sprawling, so wonderfully unwieldy"--and pays homage to the great dictionary makers, from "the irredeemably famous" Samuel Johnson to the "short, pale, smug and boastful" schoolmaster from New Hartford, Noah Webster. He then turns his unmatched talent for story-telling to the making of this most venerable of dictionaries. In this fast-paced narrative, the reader will discover lively portraits of such key figures as the brilliant but tubercular first editor Herbert Coleridge (grandson of the poet), the colorful, boisterous Frederick Furnivall (who left the project in a shambles), and James Augustus Henry Murray, who spent a half-century bringing the project to fruition. Winchester lovingly describes the nuts-and-bolts of dictionary making--how unexpectedly tricky the dictionary entry for marzipan was, or how fraternity turned out so much longer and monkey so much more ancient than anticipated--and how bondmaid was left out completely, its slips found lurking under a pile of books long after the B-volume had gone to press. We visit the ugly corrugated iron structure that Murray grandly dubbed the Scriptorium--the Scrippy or the Shed, as locals called it--and meet some of the legion of volunteers, from Fitzedward Hall, a bitter hermit obsessively devoted to the OED, to W. C. Minor, whose story is one of dangerous madness, ineluctable sadness, and ultimate redemption.
The Meaning of Everything is a scintillating account of the creation of the greatest monument ever erected to a living language. Simon Winchester's supple, vigorous prose illuminates this dauntingly ambitious project--a seventy-year odyssey to create the grandfather of all word-books, the world's unrivalled uber-dictionary.
Britain's pursuit of empire seems an inexorable march across continents toward its ultimate--if temporary---global hegemony. But, as Linda Colley shows in this masterfully written book, Britain's overseas enterprises were always constrained by its own limitations in size, population, and armed forces, and by divisions among its subjects---constraints and deficiencies that could make the dream of empire an ordeal even for its makers. Drawing on a wealth of captivity narratives by men and women of different social and ethnic backgrounds from the early seventeenth century to the Victorian era, Colley chronicles the complicated dynamic between invader and invaded.
Here are the stories of Sarah Shade, who was married to a succession of British military officers, attacked by tigers, and imprisoned by Indian ruler Tipu Sultan; Joseph Pitts, a white slave in Algiers from 1678 to 1693 and author of the first authentic--and very complimentary--English account of the pilgrimage to Mecca; and Florentia Sale, a captive in the Kabul insurrection of 1841 who used her time in confinement as an opportunity to interview military men for her memoir. There were also those who crossed the cultural divide and switched identities, like the Irishman George Thomas, a mercenary fighter for Indian rulers and failed dictator, and those who crossed but made it back, like John Rutherfurd, the onetime Chippewa warrior and Scot.
Colley uses these extraordinary tales to trace the changing boundaries of Britan's pursuit of empire and its shifting attitudes toward Islam, slavery, race, and American revolutionaries.
Hailed by "The Financial Times" as a "White Teeth version of imperial history," Captives is atonce an
original chronicle and a prescient meditation on the meaning of empire.
In England in the seventeenth century, childbirth was the province of women. The midwife ran the birth, helped by female gossips; men, including the doctors of the day, were excluded both from the delivery and from the subsequent month of lying-in.But in the eighteenth century there emerged a new practitioner: the man-midwife who acted in lieu of a midwife and delivered normal births. By the late eighteenth century, men-midwives had achieved a permanent place in the management of childbirth, especially in the most lucrative spheres of practice.Why did women desert the traditional midwife? How was it that a domain of female control and collective solidarity became instead a region of male medical practice? What had broken down the barrier that had formerly excluded the male practitioner from the management of birth?This confident and authoritative work explores and explains a remarkable transformation--a shift not just in medical practices but in gender relations. Exploring the sociocultural dimensions of childbirth, Wilson argues with great skill that it was not the desires of medical men but the choices of mothers that summoned man-midwifery into being.
This narrative of events between the years 1173 and 1202--as recorded by Jocelin of Brakelond, a monk who lived in the abbey of Bury St. Edmunds, in the region of West Suffolk--affords many unique insights into the life of a medieval religious community. It depicts the daily worship in the abbey church and the beliefs and values shared by the monks, as well as the whispered conversations, rumors, and disagreements within the cloister--and the bustling life of the market-town of Bury, just outside the abbey walls. This edition offers the first modern translation from the Latin to appear since 1949.
In this sequel to the controversial, widely praised Churchill: The End of Glory, Charmley turns his scholarship to the Anglo-American special relationship that was the cornerstone of Churchill's foreign policy, ruthlessly stripping away the myth to reveal the unsentimental reality of the Churchill years and beyond, from 1940 to 1957.
The reputation of the Victorian age in England has undergone many vicissitudes, but it is now higher than ever. In this important study, Richard D. Altick moves us toward an understanding of the social, intellectual, and theological crises that Carlyle and Dickens, Tennyson and Arnold were daily struggling to solve. And the issues were many: the revolution in class structure and class attitudes; the rise of utilitarianism and the evangelical spirit; the crisis in religion, including the Oxford movement and Darwinism; the democratization of culture; the place of art and the artist in an industrial, bourgeois society; the effects of industrialism, especially on the way people live. Altick brings to the discussion of these complicated questions the lively and sensitive intelligence that his many readers have come to expect. He includes contemporary illustrations and a full reference index.
The days from May 24 to May 28, 1940 altered the course of the history of this century, as the members of the British War Cabinet debated whether to negotiate with Hitler or to continue what became known as the Second World War. The decisive importance of these five days is the focus of John Lukacs's magisterial new book.
Lukacs takes us hour by hour into the critical unfolding of events at 10 Downing Street, where Churchill and the members of his cabinet were painfully considering their war responsibilities. We see how the military disasters taking place on the Continent--particularly the plight of the nearly 400,000 British soldiers bottled up in Dunkirk--affected Churchill's fragile political situation, for he had been prime minister only a fortnight and was regarded as impetuous and hotheaded even by many of his own party. Lukacs also investigates the mood of the British people, drawing on newspaper and Mass-Observation reports that show how the citizenry, though only partly informed about the dangers that faced them, nevertheless began to support Churchill's determination to stand fast.
Other historians have dealt with Churchill's difficulties during this period, using the partial revelations of certain memoirs and private and public papers. But Lukacs is the first to convey the drama and importance of these days, and he does so in a compelling narrative that combines deep knowledge with high literary style.