Diary of an Arctic Adventure
Arthur Conan Doyle
University of Chicago Press, 2012 ($35)

Long before he wrote the Sherlock Holmes detective novels, Conan Doyle interrupted his medical school studies to serve in 1880 as a ship's surgeon onboard a whaler bound for the Arctic. In his diary (above), reproduced from the original and accompanied by commentary from two Conan Doyle scholars, the author describes scrambling across ice sheets in search of seals to club and whales to spear, and he sketches pictures of other journey highlights. Memories of this voyage, he later wrote, stayed with him for the rest of his life.

COMMENT AT ScientificAmerican.com/oct2012