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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HATS OFF! SUPERB BIOGRAPHY, 27 July 2007
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Apratim (india) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Teller of Tales: The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle (Paperback)
This is,in my opinion,the best biography of the great man touching upon the more sensitive issues of his life tenderly,and in the process giving us a rounded portrait of the complexities and contradictions of this pioneer's mind.I can swear,that i was never interested in conan doyle the man,before reading this biography.It chanced so,that i got hold of this book in my local library,and as nothing more interesting was to be found ,i brought it back with me.On the way back i glanced at the back cover of the book ,where these words were written--

".......most surprising was his obsession with spiritualism and the paranormal.What led the creator of the practical,scientific holmes to spend years trying to reach the other side?"

WHAT indeed--I thought.Little did i know at the time,that this book will become my unputdownable companion and dominate my reading habit a lot.

In many ways conan doyle was an exception and his life exceptional.A complex life is the best subject of a biographer.The added quality of this book is the prose and style of stashower.As we know,in literature it is far more important that how you say rather than what you say.I have read almost five other biographies of conan doyle and never have i found the same man.The life is the same,the story is the same,but the attitude is completely different.
Doyle became a chief propagator of spiritualism at a later period in his life.This is a disturbance to all his biographers as it makes their subject a lunatic and therefore not worthy of study.They either avoid this or tread with caution in this ground.To stashower,however,this is the point of interest,and it is to explain this "contradiction",he has written the book.Therefore,like the others,he doesn't start his tale with the hero's birth.Instead,his story starts after doyle's death and with the determining moments of spiritualitic movement.
Opening with a quote from T.S.Eliot about doyle,discussing the life in great detail,ending with a solid bibliography this book is a fine read.It narrates the early days of doyle in southsea as a struggling doctor,new to his profession,his adventourous life,literary ambitions.It describes the influence of joseph bell and the creation of sherlock Holmes.It culminates with Doyle's war services and the final crusade of spiritualism.As to this sensitive final issue i quote from stashower in order to show his attitude--

".......it is now possible,nearly seventy years after his death,to examine this aspect of his life with sympathy,rather than derision."

AS a final comment i can only say,READ IT.You will not find a better book many times in your life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easily the most readable biography, 3 Jun 2009
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This review is from: Teller of Tales: The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle (Paperback)
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle must be the most written about man who ever lived. There are countless biographies of his life and therefore the challenge for each author is to find a new angle.

Stashower has achieved this by taking a sympathetic view of ACD's interest in the spirit world and, despite being a sceptic himself, does not look down on the opinions of his subject.

Also, in stark contrast to many more recent biographies, this one is extremely readable and doesn't remotely feel like hard work.

The only thing to bear in mind is that later biographers have had access to more information than Stashower and hence their biographies can be more up to date or contain details missing from Stashower's.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, research candidly told by an authority, 11 May 2000
By A Customer
Daniel Stashower, recent winner of BOTH the Edgar Award and the Agatha Award is deserving of both these high honors. His book on A. Conan Doyle investigates an aspect of this writer most have overlooked: Doyle's poassion for spiritualism. While the author describes himself as a "coridal Skeptic" this in no way diminsihes his admiration of the man who brought us Sherlock Holmes.
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Teller of Tales: The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle
Teller of Tales: The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle by Daniel Stashower (Paperback - 5 July 2001)
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