Noah Webster: Man of Many Words

224p. bibliog. index. maps. notes. reprods. Clarion. Aug. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780544129832.
RedReviewStarGr 7 Up—Many people take the dictionary for granted, rarely stopping to think of how it began. This well-written, impeccably researched book tells the story of Noah Webster (1758–1843), who was responsible for the first dictionary. Webster was fortunate to have a supportive father who mortgaged his farm so his son could afford to attend Yale. Webster saw the American Revolution unfold around him while a college student. He went on to work as a teacher, eventually opening a school and even offering classes to girls (a rarity in early America). It was his experiences as an educator that led him to pen an early version of the dictionary, a primer aimed at young children, teaching them spelling, language, and basic history. An ardent proponent of independence from England and a strong federalist, Webster believed that the language spoken in the New World differed significantly from British English and "ought to be a source of national pride." Reef expertly emphasizes the link between her subject's fervent desire for a strong central government and his commitment to a unified language. Though Webster was ridiculed for his ideas, he persisted. Reef not only crafts a clear picture of the man but provides readers with a glimpse at historical figures such as Thomas Paine, George Washington, James Madison, and Benjamin Franklin and effectively integrates Webster's own words into the text. Featuring a large font and images throughout, this attractive offering is an excellent look at a noteworthy individual.
VERDICT A first-rate addition to biography and history collections.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing