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Capsule book review: ‘Dangerous Work: Diary of an Arctic Adventure’ by Arthur Conan Doyle

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In 1880, Arthur Conan Doyle took a six-month leave from medical school to work as a ship’s surgeon on an Arctic whaling expedition. The trip fueled his ambitions as a writer, and he called on his memories in creating the adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Now Doyle’s shipboard journal has been published in a facsimile edition. “Dangerous Work: Diary of an Arctic Adventure” (University of Chicago) not only reproduces the actual journal pages, complete with Doyle’s illustrations, but it also offers an annotated transcript. Though his handwriting can be difficult to decipher, there is something thrilling about reading Doyle’s observations almost straight from his own pen.

JAN GARDNER