The Oxford English Dictionary, as it eventually came to be called, neatly spanned the traditional life of Man in the three-score-ten-and-a-bit years from Chenevix Trench's rallying cry in November 1857 to the completion celebrations in June 1928. Inevitably, considering the scientific and technical developments of those years, it was instantly out-of-date and the 1933 Supplement soon followed. What is remarkable is that the format and methods remained so secure over such a time span. Equally impressive is the number of editors, sub-editors, contributors, etc., whose longevity matched their dedication - notably, of course, Sir James Murray, the first properly organised editor who took the project as far as T. Simon Winchester wears his learning more lightly than the OED itself, telling the fascinating story with clarity and scholarship, but equally with entertaining recourse to anecdotes about the eccentrics who seemed to be drawn to an enterprise as crazy as it was essential. Winchester's own love of words adds a good deal to the charm of the book, even if his inability to resist lists, parentheses and funny names occasionally irritates.