As it was, both authors wrote books about British polymaths who were doctors, made breakthroughs in their medical fields, made contributions to the Encyclopedia Britannica, and were linguistic pioneers. Of the two, however, Thomas Young seemed to be more worthy of the title "polymath".
Kendall's book about Peter Mark Roget, best known as the creator of Roget's Thesaurus, is an awkward, choppy read. The book has a non-linear chain of events with a very linear plot style, which makes it difficult to parse through. Roget himself was a difficult, complicated man, and while Kendall tries extremely hard to make him a sympathetic character, he's ultimately unsuccessful.
It's clear that Kendall has a tremendous amount of appreciation for Roget; unfortunately, he didn't convince me why that appreciation was warranted.
Having said this, though, this is definitely a book that I'd like to re-read in a few years *without* having read Robinson's book. I have to admit that my review of Kendall's book was definitely influenced by having first read the biography of Young....more