What was it like aboard a whaling ship in 1880? Ask Arthur Conan Doyle. Making a snap decision to replace a friend as ship’s surgeon, the twenty-year-old medical student set sail for the Arctic. During the seven-month voyage, the budding writer kept a detailed, illustrated journal, which is reproduced here in facsimile and in transcription. ‘Dangerous Work’: Diary of an Arctic Adventure (Univ. of Chicago, $35), edited by Jon Lellenberg and Daniel Stashower (editors also of Doyle’s letters and first novel) is a remarkable look at both a little-known episode of a well-known life and at a bygone era. Doyle called this expedition his coming-of-age, and its lessons ranged from how to stay upright on ice to how to face losing a patient to how to countenance the slaughter of whales, seals, and bears. Doyle also took from the experience plenty of material for fictional tales and nonfiction articles. This volume includes samples of each along with photos of the young Doyle, the S.S. Hope, and its captain and crew.
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