The collaboration of the Professor (and first editor of the Oxford English Dictionary) and the Madman (also murderer, Civil War surgeon, and important volunteer for the OED) make a nice little story. Winchester fills in details of that little story which connect it to much else in history. I particularly like the light touch of the connections; Winchester is satisfied to point out coincidences or explain the context, the contemporaneous feeling, in historical connections, without writing as though he had found the puppet-strings of history.
One of the contexts was the interest of Irish regiments in fighting for the Union in the Civil War; on top of the crabs-in-a-bucket competition between the Irish and blacks, many in the Irish regiments were practicing warfare in order to throw the English out of Ireland.
Another was the unprovable-but-obvious connection between the English desire to make a Dictionary of their language, and the rise of science, with its new ability to define some things precisely.
Find in a LibrarySo wrote clew in History (19th c.).