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»Despite the way his career ended, Burns did much inspire both real-life and fictional investigators. Conversely, Burns himself was held up to the standards of fiction, with Sherlock Holmes being the primary yardstick. Burns never quite lived up to Holmes (who never had to deal with holding an official position or go before a Senate hearing), but America’s willingness to brand him as the Great Detective’s Yankee equal serves as a testament not only to this country’s constant search for celebrity heroes, but also how badly humans want reality to mirror fiction—not the other way around.«

Benjamin Welton

Real detective: Benjamin Welton about William J. Burns, an Irish-American sleuth who bore more than a passing resemblance to Arthur Conan Doyle himself. His portrait at The Atlantic.

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