The Man Who Made Lists is getting a lot of press recently. Earlier this month, I heard the author Joshua Kendall speak at the Boston Athenaeum (http://www.bostonathenaeum.org/).
I tend to take things like the thesaurus for granted. It's just one of those things that's just there. However , it apparently has generated a fair amount of controversy with some arguing that the thesaurus is a crutch for weak writers. The thesaurus, like the dictionary, is an evolving work with words being added or definitions changing.
If you think this sounds interesting, you may enjoy The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of The Oxford English Dictionary.