Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Few Lessons from Sherlock Holmes by Peter Bevelin

Small book, big ideas

Peter Bevelin’s short book is a compendium of quotes from the stories of Sherlock Holmes, other writings by Arthur Conan Doyle, and some writings of Doyle’s contemporaries. Before each set of quotes, Bevelin identifies a theme, such as “Practice is a good instructor and teaches us to where to look and what to look for”. (Bevelin, Peter (2013-06-24). A Few Lessons from Sherlock Holmes (Kindle Locations 156-157). MX Publishing. Kindle Edition.) The quotes, primarily from stories of Holmes, then illustrate or elucidate the theme. Perhaps that second most commonly cited source comes from Thomas McCrae, who published a work in a Canadian medical journal in 1914  titled “The Method of Zadig in the Practice of Medicine”, which discusses many of the themes common to Holmes’ methods. 
This short (65-page) book is a compendium of wisdom that one can dip into at random to reinforce an inquiring and questioning mind. Its single sentence themes and brief quotes make it like a commonplace book. In its themes and conclusions (and often in its selections of quotes from the Holmes treasury), it’s very similar to Maria Konnikova’s Mastermind:How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes. But where Bevelin limits his quotes to Holmes and his contemporaries, Konnikova riffs into contemporary research and thought. Both are valuable and fun—how could they not be when led by the great detective?

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