An admiring biography of Thomas Gallaudet, who devoted his life to establishing and running the first American school for the deaf. Always frail and small in size, Gallaudet was a brilliant student but was passed over as Yale's 1805 valedictorian because the last rows of the audience would not be able to see him. Gallaudet was a visiting preacher, not strong enough for a regular position, when he met nine-year-old, deaf Alice Cogswell and taught her to associate the word ""HAT"" he scratched in the dirt with the object on his head. After he taught Alice sign language from a French book owned by her doctor father, Gallaudet, with Doctor Cogswell's help, went abroad to study education for the deaf. As the oral method taught in England was monopolized by one family who kept the secret, Gallaudet returned with the French sign method only, and a deaf teacher from the French school. Later he wished to add oral learning as a supplement at his school but his difficult board forbade it, and the two methods were subsequently polarized for generations--though Gallaudet College in Washington now combines them. Gallaudet married one of his pupils, fathered eight children, and died beloved of pupils, teachers, the townspeople of Hartford (where his school was situated), and educators everywhere. Such is the rather pious tone of Neimark's account, which can serve a subject interest though it is no model of the biographer's art.