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Dangerous Work: Diary of an Arctic Adventure Hardcover – October 1, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; First Edition edition (October 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 022600905X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226009056
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 8.8 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #530,741 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

 “What does Dangerous Work have in common with Moby-Dick? A few of a hundred possible answers: Both books disguise great depth beneath the cloak of an adventure story. Both offer accounts of what was once a major industry, comparable in relative terms to today’s oil industry. Both should be read from cover to cover, shared with friends and revisited in front of a warm fire. And both, for different reasons, are books to treasure, the kind that kindle and rekindle a love of words and a feeling of irredeemable debt to the men behind them.”
(Bill Streever New York Times Book Review)

 “Even if this diary of the nineteenth-century whaling ship Hope’s Arctic exploits didn’t come from Sherlock Holmes’s creator, it would still make fascinating reading, especially for Patrick O'Brian fans. . . . Though Doyle, a medical student serving aboard as ship’s doctor, was just twenty at the time, his gifts for writing and observation are already much in evidence, as when he observes ‘hillocks’ of ice ‘rising and falling with the waves, pure white above and of a wonderful green below.’. . . Similar to Christopher Tolkien's work on his father's unpublished writings, this diary’s publication adds both to the still-growing body of Doyle’s early work and to our understanding of what made him tick.”
(Publishers Weekly)

“For 130 years, this amazing diary, written by the creator of Sherlock Holmes, has lain hidden. Only now have Sir Arthur’s descendants consented to its publication. It is probably one of the most exciting literary finds of recent years, for it sheds an entirely new light on a writer we thought we knew so well.”
(Philip Hoare Daily Mail)

“[W]orthwhile not least for Conan Doyle’s whimsical illustrations. . . . In books by and about Arthur Conan Doyle, all roads lead to Holmes, and this book is, not at all regrettably, no exception. . . . Dangerous Work is the richer for showing not just Conan Doyle’s proto-Holmesian work, but also his tendencies to romanticize his experience and to enliven it with a well-chosen white lie. One of the most amusing things that emerges when all of his Arctic writings are brought together is just how often he revisited and revised his memories of the expedition.”
(Laura Marsch New Republic)

“[T]here is something thrilling about reading Doyle’s observations almost straight from his own pen.”
(Jan Gardner Boston Globe)

“This visually very pleasing volume is sturdily bound, beautifully printed, and very reasonably priced. . . . [I]t gives us a truly singular and delightful insight into the mind and habits of a man who would, not long after, bring to life two of the most enduring characters in the history of literature.”
(Arctic Book Review)

“[T]his is the perfect armchair volume for that looming Canadian winter—when thoughts of freezing gales and ice-strewn waters come naturally.”
(Canadian Holmes)

“[A] rip-roaring account of [Conan Doyle’s] adventures as ship’s doctor on the Arctic whaler Hope.”
(Guardian)

Dangerous Work is not just an exciting new insight into the life of Arthur Conan Doyle: it is itself a thing of beauty. . . . [It] is an essential volume for any Doylean’s collection, but it will also excite anyone with a taste for Victorian adventure and provide an inspiring source for scholars working on the life and times of Sherlock Holmes and his creator.”
(Sherlock Holmes Journal)

“This reissue of Conan Doyle’s original diary from his 1880 voyage on the whaling vessel Hope is fascinating both as a historical document and for its insight into the mind of a literary giant. . . . [Y]ou don't need to be a Conan Doyle scholar to enjoy the hell out of Dangerous Work. This is a title to read as literary and whaling history and, at its most basic, one young man's journey into a dangerous place and having his adventure. The University of Chicago Press rolls out the royal treatment for Conan Doyle with their design, providing an entire facsimile of the diary in the first half of the volume. The pages are sepia, Conan Doyle’s drawings are crisp, his maps are clear, his renderings of the Hope, the animals they encountered and his crewmates are all gorgeously reproduced (this is the kind of diary we all dream of keeping), and he tells his story in perfect script, on straight lines, in a manner that begs to be read.”
(Colleen Mondor Bookslut)

“[A]uthoritatively edited and annotated. . . . [A] lavish production, almost a coffee-table volume.”

(New York Reivew of Books)

“We revere Arthur Conan Doyle as the creator of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, but he was far more than just the great storyteller of his age: There was a streak of the adventurer in Conan Doyle’s make-up, reflected in his passion for boxing matches, outdoor sports, and war zones. While still a medical student, a very young Arthur shipped out for six months on an Arctic whaler, turning twenty-one just 600 miles from the North Pole. His diary of this ‘dangerous work’ makes irresistible reading, especially when annotated by two of the most knowledgeable Conan Doyle scholars alive. As a supplement, Jon Lellenberg and Daniel Stashower include four magnificent pieces of writing inspired by this youthful adventure: Conan Doyle’s reflections on ‘The Glamour of the Arctic’ and ‘Life on a Greenland Whaler,’ his most haunting ghost story, ‘The Captain of the Polestar,’ and one of the most dramatic of all Sherlock Holmes mysteries, ‘The Adventure of Black Peter.’ This is, in short, an important book for scholars, but also a tremendously exciting one for readers.”
(Michael Dirda, author of On Conan Doyle)

About the Author

Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930) was a British physician and writer most noted for his stories about the detective Sherlock Holmes. Jon Lellenberg and Daniel Stashower are the editors of Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters and Conan Doyle’s first novel, The Narrative of John Smith.

 

 


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Customer Reviews

A must present for any Arthur Conan Doyle fan.
Amazon Customer
This is a very handsome book with full cloth covers and very high-quality paper.
Otho Bludge
His adventure was interesting and his sense of humor wonderful.
Rebecca Long

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By a bookbinder on October 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I purchased this book based on a very brief online review; the entire publication wildly exceeds my expectations. The printing quality is generous and scrumptious: large format pages, full facsimile page spreads, exquisite color matching, and generous "additional material." This will be a wonderful book both to have in one's home library collection for reading and paging through, and also a stellar "gift book" for travelers, Conan Doyle fans, and those who like old books.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Ian on October 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First rate dairy with insights to life in the 1880s and the detailed adventures of an unknown 20 year old .. later to become one of the worlds best known authors.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dag Stomberg on November 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover
A twenty year old medical student hired as a ship's surgeon would become the author
of the inimitable super-sleuth probably because in small part of this high adventure
discourse.

The glamour of the Arctic as expounded by Conan Doyle is a dazzling account. He writes, " amid all the excitement-and no one who has not held an oar in such a
scene can tell how exciting it is-one's sympathies lie with the poor hunted
creature." One should remember the time when Arthur Conan Doyle set sail on this
adventure. The raison d'etre of the six month voyage being the culling of whales
foremost (as it turned out only two were made redundant) in other words it was a
disaster in commercial terms. Also, unfortunately seals, polar bears, narwhals
and seabirds were killed too! Terrible for the environment (thinking today) but, accepted then.

A magazine article suggesting routes to the North Pole gave him the respect of
Arctic explorers.

This current publication is unbelievably fine!

Dag Stomberg
St. Andrews, Scotland
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Penelope Schmitt on January 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although one may sicken slightly (or greatly) at the tally of seals knocked on the head, whales slaughtered, and bears bagged, this diary of a whaler's voyage into Arctic waters reveals the very young Doyle as a fearless, observant, and interesting crew member with a hand for drawing as competent as his gift for writing and recording. Doyle already began to 'contain multitudes' at this early age, and you can see how he was becoming the man who would have Holmes and Watson as avatars--himself more the bluff and hearty man of simple tastes, but harboring within the keener mind and sensibility of the observant connoisseur.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Pat in Colorado on December 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this as a Christmas gift for a smart, engaging 15 year old whose ambition is to become an Arctic scientist and whose favorite author is Conan Doyle. But I cheated and read it through before I wrapped it. It's a beautiful edition at a more than reasonable price, and it's a rollicking read, as well, as you would expect from even the youthful Conan Doyle--even then a close observer of the world around him and the people who populate it. The recipient was suitably wowed, just as I was.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. Wiebe on November 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The first pages (approximately first half) of this book are photocopies of Arthur Conan Doyle's own journal (before his knighthood) of the incredible challenges he faced on an Arctic expedition at the age of 20. That part is difficult to read, but the second half includes the annotated version, which makes this an invaluable primary source for information and insight into the mind of this great author before he was "great."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Donald Lewin on November 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This makes a great gift to a teenager/young adult who is somewhat at loss as to a career. It documents the path of one distinguished individual in making that choice. Besides it is a nice pleasant, fascinating read. As an older man who essentially made his living as an economist and statistician, I was somewhat appalled by the brutal notion of making a livelihood from hunting, but the business as a business is a fiine example of of the way business contracts and risks were undertaking in a by-gone era.

As a book complete with editotial comments, it is a fine piece of scholarship and very intelligent editing. It was an easyread.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Otho Bludge on October 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very handsome book with full cloth covers and very high-quality paper. The typography is easy to read. The introduction provides many interesting photographs. The entire first section is a nice facsimile copy of Doyle's journal followed by the journal entries transcribed and printed for easier reading. All in all, I'm glad to have purchased such an elegant book that gives some insight into Doyle's early life and career.
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