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21. Devil Drives: A Life of Sir Richard
$12.00
22. Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton:
$4.96
23. Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton:
24. Sir Richard Burton's Travels in
$5.73
25. The Collector of Worlds: A Novel
 
26. Burton and Speke: A Novel about
$24.95
27. Sindh Revisited: A Journey in
$7.83
28. The Devil Drives: A Life of Sir
 
29. City of the Saints: And Across
 
30. Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton
$11.96
31. In Search of Richard Burton: Papers
 
$50.00
32. Sir Richard F. Burton: A Biobibliographical
$17.65
33. The Highly Civilized Man: Richard
 
34. Richard Burton (World's Great
 
$119.95
35. Richard Burton: A Traveller in
36. Falconry in the Valley of the
 
37. Richard F. Burton (Twayne's English
$7.03
38. The Gold-Mines of Midian
 
$20.00
39. Catalogue of the Library of Sir
 
$9.01
40. Wanderings in West Africa

21. Devil Drives: A Life of Sir Richard
by Richard Francis, 1821-1890 Burton
 Hardcover: Pages (1967)

Asin: B000NP68OO
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22. Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton: The Secret Agent Who Made the Pilgrimage to Mecca, Discovered the Kama Sutra, and Brought the Arabian Nights to the West
by Edward Rice
Paperback: 688 Pages (1991-04)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$12.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060973943
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Describes the life of Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton, who explored India, the Near East, and Africa, went to Mecca, discovered the Kama Sutra, and introduced the Arabian Nights to the West. Reprint. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars An actual renaissance man
One of the most unique figures of the 19th century. If anyone from that era might qualify as a renaissance man surely it would be this man. The very model of the 19th century explorer, but not only an explorer of the globe but of the human experience. A soldier in India, traveler across the Middle East, explorer in Somalia and Central Africa and diplomat,translator, author, poet, probably the most noted linguist of his time. There doesn't appear to be any area of human existence that didn't fascinate and intrigue him. While he was often lionized in Victorian England, his interests extended into human sexuality as it was practiced in the various lands he traveled, and scandalized many of his contemporiaries, and most especially his wife, who spent a significant portion of the time immediately following his death burning as much of his writings as she could get her hands on. This book is as close to being the definitive work of his life as anything ever written, including all his various flaws and pecularities.

5-0 out of 5 stars Capt. Sir Richard Francis Burton:Secret Agent who Made the Pilgrimage to Mecca
Great read.Unbelievable story about an individual who may have been one of the most interesting and romantic characters from Briton in the 19th century!A real page turner which for
a biography is highly unusual for me anyway.

[...]

5-0 out of 5 stars Truth is More Interesting Than Fiction
Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton was a scholar, linguist, explorer, anthropologist, cartographer, mystic, diplomat, raconteur, and libertine. It always amazes me that most people have never heard of him, but I suppose he was pushed under the rug because his attitudes towards sex and other religions were an embarrassment to the upright citizens of Victorian England (and modern school book writers). The fact that his wife Isabel burned a great deal of his manuscripts after his death didn't help either.

Usually given short shrift by historians, Burton's genius and madness are explored at length in this wonderfully written, detailed biography. The only thing I would change would be to include more maps detailing Burton's journeys, a map at the beginning of each chapter would not be excessive.

If you want some Burton light, Philip Jose Farmer made him the main character in his Riverworld series To Your Scattered Bodies Go (Riverworld Saga, Book 1), and Jude Deveraux models the character Frank Baker after him in The Duchess.

5-0 out of 5 stars The RealEat Pray Love!
You want to talk about traveling, eating, praying and loving.....the bio of Sir Richard Francis Burton is the real deal on Eat Pray Love. This Englishman who lived during 1821-1890 traveled throughout India, made the pilgrimage to Mecca,(incognito) explored parts of Africa in search of the Nile's source, lived as consul in Damascus, Brazil and Italy. Having to learn many different languages and dialects (29), study several religions, cultures, eat the food, wear the clothes, screw the women, he became one of "them" (depending on which country he was in as a spy) else he'd be killed.

Facing death by starvation, thirst, exhaustion, countless diseases, temporary blindness, attacks from native barbarians during his treks across lands, where in some cases no white man had ever been, he kept careful notes of all he witnessed to be published upon his return. As if that weren't enough, he went on to translate the Kama Sutra and Arabian Nights, before this amazing man died of the ripe old age of 69.

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing book, amazing life
This is a book that may look intimidating with its 600+ pages, but unlike some other reviewers, I did not find a single dull moment. Edward Rice has done a truly masterful job in carrying us through the whole life of this extraordinary man.

Burton had energy and talent enough for any six normal people - perhaps more.Even in his declining years, weak and wracked by sickness, he still traveled, traveled compulsively, though in these latter days the travels did not, as always previously, produce books full of information on the places and people and societies he visited. He was now focused on the translations for which he is (among other things) famous. Yet still, when the old lion was required to return from England to his "official" consular job in Trieste, Rice notes that "Noise, fatigue, hours spent in changing trains or boarding or disembarking from steamboats did not deter Burton. Geneva, Venice, Naples, Brindisi, Malta, Tunis, Algiers, the Riviera, the Alps, with a dozen stops in between, were visited and complained about."

It's hard to give the flavor of this amazing biography- amazing life! Soaking up languages as if by osmosis, dressing and passing for any of a dozen Eastern races and sharing their ways, visiting their secret holy places -hey, what a movie or TV series, would knock spots off Tomb Raiders etc...

The pleasure is increased by Rice's occasional laconic throwaway lines: "The Maratha princes...were patrons of the great god Siva and practiced forms of phallic worship, engaged in by male and female devotees alike in very wild and primitive rites." That's all we get on that. (But then, perhaps it's all we need.)

Rice describes Doughty, another famous writer on the Middle East, as writing "a rich and tortured prose that still wins him admiration but few readers."

Many mind-jolting incidents: on Burton's wife Isabel's difficulties in South America, preaching to the black slaves: "Her only convert was a black dwarf named Chico, who betrayed her faith in him by roasting her favorite cat alive over the kitchen fire." But Chico continued in her service - no others available!

He has an eye for other people's good quotes: Burton's predecessor at Trieste had been handed the post of consul with Lord Derby's comment, "Here is six hundred a year for doing nothing, and you are just the man to do it."

I believe it would help us all to better understand the current Middle East to read this account of the sources it sprang from, 150 years ago. No, they are not like us (Westerners) and never have been. We even see the first mention of the Wahhabis, "a much-feared set of fundamentalists who were noted for their violence and puritanical beliefs..."

The writing is so accomplished that I regret having to raise one correction: in the Royal Navy you don't travel "in the H.M.S Antelope" for instance. You travel "in HMS Antelope- no "the" (and usually no periods in HMS). Doesn't make sense, anyway, when you recall that HMS stands for His (or Her) Majesty's Ship.Contrariwise, "the" is OK with "SS Oldiron" - "the steam ship Oldiron."

But that doesn't reduce the five stars!

... Read more


23. Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton: The Secret Agent Who Made the Pilgrimage to Mecca, Discovered the Kama Sutra, and Brought the Arabian Nights to the West
by Edward Rice
Hardcover: 544 Pages (1990-05-14)
list price: US$35.00 -- used & new: US$4.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0684191377
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Richard Burton, explorer, linguist and great Victorian
The subtext to the cover of this book reads "The secret agent who made the pilgrimage to Mecca, discovered the Kama Sutra and brought the Arabian Nights to the West" does nothing but trivialise this otherwise worthy biography.
Richard Burton was one of the giants of the Victorian empire and epitomised all that was great in the 19th century Empire. His strong physique and intellect were matched by an insatiable appetite for cultural and geographic exploration.
He was an accomplished linguist, speaking 29 languages so successfully that he could disguise himself as one of the locals to further penetrate the culture.
Edwin Rice's biography is well researched, clearly written and an excellent portrait of one of Victorian Britain's heroes.

5-0 out of 5 stars Historical High Adventure!
RFB was no angel, but definitely one of my heros- an adventurers of the 1800 when so much of the world was alien, unfamiliar, and exotic. Another reviewer compares him to Indiana Jones, and it's not a bad comparison. While cowboys were taming the wild frontier of the American West, this Brit was playing cowboy in the Old World. He explored the origin of the Nile to Lake Victoria, when it was completely unknown, and widely-regarded as hostile territory. He wandered India and the Middle East, not as a tourist, but so proficient in several of the local languages that he was able to pass himself off as native! Unlike so many British adventurers, RFB respected the indiginous peoples of the lands he was exploring- indeed, was prone to "go native", which often put him at a distance from his countrymen, but made possible the incredibly rich, fascinating life described in this book. I have recommended this to several people, and always received enthusiastic feedback.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good on Biography; Poor on Geography
A splendid biography, providing additional details from previous books on the subject; a fascinating life. It must be confusing for the non-British reader to be confronted with references to 'England' and 'English'
when the correct nomenclature should be 'Britain' and 'British'.For instance, the author refers to the 'English Government', an entity which ceased to exist with the Treaty of Union in 1707. These lapses are not acceptable from an academic author

5-0 out of 5 stars An Incredible Account of the Life of an Extraordinary Man!
This review applies to the A.D. 1990 Volume: "Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton: The Secret Agent Who Made The Pilgrimage To Mecca, Discovered The Kama Sutra, and Brought The Arabian Nights To The West," written by Edward Rice and published by Charles Scribner's Sons, Macmillan Publishing Company, New York City, NY. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 89-10898.

Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton (1821-1890) is without question one of the most remarkable men of the Nineteenth Century. This text covers the exploits of the man who was the towering intellectual and physical specimen, face scarred by a Somali warrior's spear; Burton the scholar and author; Burton the scientist, soldier, explorer, and British undercover agent to boot.

Burton was one of the very first Europeans to seek the source of the Nile River in Central Africa, as daring then as a trip to the moon now. He was the first European to reach Lake Tanganyika. In disguise he went to the forbidden cities of Mecca and Medina. He was the first European to penetrate the sacred city of Harar in the unexplored East Africa. It was Burton who brought out to the Western World the classic Indian book on sex, the "Kama Sutra." And--perhaps his most celebrated achievement--Burton did the seventeen volume translation of the classic "Arabian Nights."

Burton had mastered some twenty-nine languages and dialects and operated as an undercover agent while employed as an officer for the East India Company in India. On one secret mission, Burton investigated the Mormons of Utah, the subject of his book "The City of the Saints." On another trip to the Western Hemisphere Burton explored the battlefields of Paraguay out of which came a book about the war between Paraguay and Brazil. Fascinated by swords Burton wrote a comprehensive treatise on the subject which is still in print today; "The Book of The Sword."

Burton also served as a diplomat in Trieste, Damascus, and as envoy to Dahome so as to convince the West African King to stop the celebration of the Dahoman custom of human sacrifice and cannibalism and to desist in the slave trade: "It was barbaric and of an unlimited cruelty (the celebration of custom in Dahomey).Burton did not see any executions, but in deference to him--or to his Queen--the victims were slaughtered at night--"the evil nights," said Burton--the King cutting off the first head himself.Nine men perished in the first slaughter, the victims being decapitated and castrated after death, "in respect," wrote Burton, "to the royal wives."In all, Burton counted twenty-three male victims.He was told that eighty perished during the five days of the custom, and some five-hundred during the year.Women criminals were executed by "officers of their own sex, within the palace walls, not in the presence of men," a fact that he could not resist emphasizing later: 'Dahome is there one point more civilized than Great Britain, where they still, wonderous to relate, 'hang away' even women, in public.'" (Chapter 25, p.379).

Burton's translations of "The Perfumed Garden," and of the "Ananga Ranga" were the first in English of these erotic Indian classics.Burton also had the satisfaction of seeing published his own works of "Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to El-Medinah and Meccah," and "First Footsteps in East Africa; or, and Exploration of Harar."

Although, unfortunately, many of his works and narratives were destroyed posthumously by his wife, no modern day explorer can even hope to achieve or surmount the exploits and travels of Sir Richard Burton who was knighted during the last ten years of his life. Although the 1989 Bob Rafelson movie "Mountains of the Moon" recounts just one chapter in Burton's life (the discovery of Lake Tanganyika and relationship with Speake), it may be a good starting point for the reader.

Simply beyond belief. A remarkable saga!Five stars.

5-0 out of 5 stars A special book worth seeking out
Sir Richard Burton was a true legend -- he spoke more than 25 languages, travelled to all sorts of remote places, and had a fascinating life. If you enjoy armchair travel books, this one if for you. Rice travelledextensively in the 10 years it took him to research Burton's life. Burtonhas many "firsts" to his name:the first European to look forthe source of the Nile, the first to discover Lake Tanganyika, the first todisguise himself and visit Medina and Mecca, and the list goes on. If notfor Burton, we would not have the Kama Sutra nor the tales from ArabianNights.You can just see Burton in his tent in Africa translating andkeeping diary notes.This is one of the most interesting biographies Ihave ever read. A true adventurer. ... Read more


24. Sir Richard Burton's Travels in Arabia and Africa: Four Lectures from a Huntington Library Manuscript
by Sir Richard Burton
Hardcover: 110 Pages (1990-01-01)
list price: US$24.95
Isbn: 0873281314
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Sir Richard Burton (1821-1890)--explorer, linguist, anthropologist--was one of the most fascinating figures of the Victorian era. In 1866, while serving as British consul in Brazil, he presented four lectures on the highlights of his travels in Arabia and Africa. The first two lectures describe the visits Burton made to Medina and Mecca disguised as an Islamic pilgrim. The rites of pilgrimage, framed by the drama of Burton's disguise and its attendant dangers, are described in extensive and sympathetic detail. The next two lectures are dramatic accounts of Burton's journeys to Harar and Dahomey, and of his mission to persuade King Gelele to give up the practice of human sacrifice. The vivid details he presents reveal not only the characteristics of the cultures he encountered but also the prejudices of the culture he represented. Well received by critics when first published in 1990, this volume of lectures is now available in paperback. ... Read more


25. The Collector of Worlds: A Novel of Sir Richard Francis Burton
by Iliya Troyanov
Hardcover: 464 Pages (2009-04-01)
list price: US$24.99 -- used & new: US$5.73
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0061351938
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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A stunning fictionalized account of the infamous life of British colonial officer and translator Sir Richard Francis Burton

This fictionalized account imagines the life of Sir Richard Francis Burton—a nineteenth-century British colonial officer with a rare ability to assimilate into indigenous cultures. Burton's obsessive traveling took him from England to British India, Arabia, and on a quest for the source of the Nile River in Africa. He learned more than twenty lan­guages, translated The Arabian Nights and the Kama Sutra, and took part in the pilgrimage to Mecca, in addition to writing several travel books.

This elegant, layered novel tells the story of Burton's adventures in British West India, his experience on the hajj to Mecca, and his exploration of East Africa. In each section, perspective shifts between Burton and the voices of those men he encounters along the way: his Indian servant tells the stories of his travails with Burton to a scribe; the qadi, the governor, and the shari in Mecca investigate Burton's hajj; and Sidi Mubarak Bombay, his African guide, shares his story with friends in Zanzibar. The concentric narratives examine the underbelly of colonialism while offering a breathtaking tour of the nineteenth century's most stunning landscapes.

The Collector of Worlds won the fiction prize of Germany's Leipzig Book Fair in 2006 and the Berlin Literary Award, in addition to being a runaway bestseller in Germany.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (16)

5-0 out of 5 stars Absolutely excellent.A great fantasy of a great man.
This is a great bio of a truly giant of a man. Those who have read biographies of or works by Sir Richard Francis Burton will enjoy this. Others, perhaps not as much. A blistering insight into the British Empire's India. Fine reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Collector of Worlds: A Novel of Sir Richard Burton
This was an excellent selection! Burton was truly a universal man, and the book read like the wind! Great book! Burton is known for his exotic travel adventures all over the world in the 19th century, and was a linguist who spoke 29 languages! He also wrote a great quantity of books, which have been read by interested people everywhere.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good read
Richard Burton led a fascinating life and accomplished remarkable feats. He wrote books about much of what he did. However, I find his writing annoying and less than enlightening. His tone is arrogant, and he spends a major part of his books in judgment and condemnation. Therefore, I was pleased to have access to his incredible life through more palatable eyes.

Troyanov selected three major phases of Burton's life: his first assignment abroad as an officer, his covert trip to Mecca, and his expedition with John Speke to Lake Victoria. By layering normal narrative with others' tales regarding Burton, Troyanov is able to convey Burton's thinking and personality in an offhand way, making no claim to understanding them. Having other characters listen to the accounts of Burton's exploits, his is able to drill deeper, as they ask for clarification or interpretation.

The snippets are placed irregularly, with the parallel accounts occasionally overlapping and occasionally leaving considerable gaps between events. The effect is pleasing, producing a narrative that is both spare and luxuriant, leaving the reader to feel that he is accomplishing something in the interpretation of the tales and omissions.

It is also interesting that he begins with the character that seems to understand Burton best, and ends with the character that is by his own admission mystified by him, creating a sense that Burton was a man that was not likely to be understood by anyone, especially himself.

4-0 out of 5 stars Exploring Burton
"Collector of Worlds" is a fictional account of three extended journeys in the life of the great Victorian explorer/translator Sir Richard Francis Burton: to India, Arabia, and Africa, each occupying a third of Troyanov's book. From India, Burton brought back the Kama Sutra, and from Arabia, the Arabian Nights. While in Arabia, Burton also became one of the very few non-Muslims to ever complete the pilgrimage to Mecca. In Africa, Burton led a harrowing expedition that "discovered" Lake Tanganyika (which was unknown to Europe at the time, although the Africans and Arabs were well aware of it).

Author Iliya Troyanov's narrates Burton's explorations through the (fictional) words of native people who guided Burton on his explorations or were otherwise involved with him. His multiple- (and sometimes unreliable) narrator perspective is a modern novelistic tool that usually works well in this book - Troyanov is a fine writer - but occasionally distracts from the narrative. As if realizing that Burton's interior life could not be imagined from such a perspective, Troyanov occasionally breaks off from the first-person narrative of Burton's companions and inserts a page or two in "omniscient narrator" perspective.

As a reader I found Troyanov's novel to be perched, somewhat precariously, between Burton's inner and outer worlds; his multiple-narrator approach seemed a kind of indirect and limited viewpoint on such a personally dynamic, iconoclastic, and complicated man as Burton. However, the overall quality of Troyanov's writing - which approaches the lyrical, and is certainly literary without being at all pretentious - easily overrides these objections.

4-0 out of 5 stars Collector of the worlds
The writer and the subject Richard Burton have a critical thing in common,place. Whilst Burton was one of the first in the "place' Troyanov has been there and brings the colour and feeling of the exotic to his book.
Personally I prefer books written in the first person and this one is not.
Overall I enjoyed the book and will reread it again in the near future. ... Read more


26. Burton and Speke: A Novel about the Great African Explorers
by William Harrison
 Paperback: 420 Pages (1982-09)

Isbn: 0312108745
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Don't want to review. Looking for videotape of PBS program.
Can you help? PBS ran a series on this subject some years ago. I'd like to find a copy. ... Read more


27. Sindh Revisited: A Journey in the Footsteps of Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton 1842-1849 : The India Years
by Christopher Ondaatje
Hardcover: 351 Pages (1996-05)
list price: US$31.00 -- used & new: US$24.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0002554364
Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Sindh Revisited is a remarkable story of the author'sfascination with the early life of Sir Richard Francis Burton(1821-1890). It is the story of an incredible journey, too - deep intothe heart of British India, and the India and Sindh of today.

Christopher Ondaatje's Sindh Revisited is the extraordinarilysensitive account of the author's quest to uncover the secrets of theseven years Richard Burton spent in India in the army of the EastIndia Company from 1842 to 1849.

Here is drama and insight, danger and revelation - a rare first-handglimpse into a world few of us know. Startling photographs complementthis narrative that puts the reader on the scene in modern Sindh whilenever losing sight of the Victorian India of Burton. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

1-0 out of 5 stars The least informative book about Sindh
I disliked this book.The author travels to Sindh and revists the places visited by Sir Richard F. Burton, and then writes about his observations.I have 2 problems with this book..

One is that the authors obsession with prostitution and homosexuality distorts his views of this great land.Secondly, his views are clouded by his sources which are all feudal in nature.One cannot experience Sindh without looking at the lives of the everyday people.I for one wasn't impressed by the fact that the authors hosts in Sindh were the biggest criminals and landlords of the province.

Finally, it is silly for the author to keep pointing out that Burton was well known for his controversial report about homosexuality in Karachii.We got that the first time he mentions it.

4-0 out of 5 stars A rare, wonderful glimpse of Victorian India
While rifling through her stack of borrowed library books, during my brief visit to Sarnia earlier this month, one book stood out and beckoned me to read it. Written by one of our very own (i.e Canadian), ChristopherOndaatje, not to be confused with his brother of "The EnglishPatient" fame, "Sindh Revisited" is what its subtitle speaksof: "A Journey in the Footsteps of Captain Sir Richard FrancisBurton."

Though Burton, the 19th century adventurer, too, wentlooking for the source of the Nile, it was Burton's own account of hisexperiences covering the western seaboard of India, between 1842 - 1849,which became the basis of Ondaatje's quest to mirror a similar trek.Ondaatje is a devout admirer of Burton having read all that has beenwritten about him as well as Burton's own accounts. To capture the trueessence of his journey, and grasp the geo-social nuances of India'sdiversity, Ondaatje persuaded Haroon Siddiqi, editor emeritus of "TheToronto Star", to accompany him on his travels. Siddiqi turns out tobe an able guide, interpreter and sometimes an effectiveinterlocutor.

Burton served as a military officer, sometimes surveyor,with the British East India Company (BEIC). He was an accomplished linguistwho spoke a number of Indian languages and dialects. rumor had it that hewas in reality a spy dispatched to areas still under native control butwhich were coveted by the BEIC. He openly cohabited with local gals to thegreat consternation of fellow officers. On many of his trips he easilymerged into the local scene, in dress, food, habits, gestures and of coursethe lingo.

Though the book is titled "Sindh Revisited", a titlesimilar to that of Burton's book, it is in reality a much more extensive ajourney which encompasses Mysore, Goa, Bombay, Baroda, Karachi and someother places of great fascination. Ondaatje gives us descriptive glimpsesof what life may have been like during Burton's time and as he would haveseen and experienced it, comparing it to present day life in each of theseplaces. He captures the life of some of today's Maharajas (e.g Gaekwar ofBaroda) and their painful readjustment into civilian life, a far cry fromabsolute rulership enjoyed by their fathers or grandfathers. There is ariveting account of a 'mujra' evening in a well-known district of Karachi.Burton fell from General Napier's gracewith his reports giving luridwritten accounts of boy brothels in Karachi.

Christopher Ondaatje wasborn in Ceylon, recieving his schooling and began his career in England,and emigrated to Canada in 1956. In 1967 he founded Pagurian Press. He wasa member of Canada's Olympic bobsled team that brought back Camada's onlygold medal from the 1964 Olympics. He is the author of The Prime Ministersof Canada, Olympic Victory, Leopard in the Afternoon and The Man Eater ofPunanai.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to one and all.

Bhupinder ... Read more


28. The Devil Drives: A Life of Sir Richard Burton
by Fawn M. Brodie
Paperback: 408 Pages (1984-07-17)
list price: US$17.95 -- used & new: US$7.83
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0393301664
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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"Brilliant. . . . [Brodie's] scholarship is wide and searching, and her understanding of Burton and his wife both deep and wide. She writes with clarity and zest. The result is a first class biography of an exceptional man."—J. H. Plumb, New York Times Book ReviewStarting in a hollowed log of wood—some thousand miles up a river, with an infinitesimal prospect of returning! I ask myself "Why?" and the only echo is "damned fool! . . . the Devil drives!"

So Richard Francis Burton, preparing for an exploration of the lower Congo in 1863, wrote to Monckton Milnes from the African kingdom of Dahomey. His answer, "the Devil drives," applies not only to his geographical discoveries but also to the whole of his turbulent life.

Burton was a true man of the Renaissance. He was soldier, explorer, ethnologist, archaeologist, poet, translator, and one of the two or three great linguists of his time. He was also an amateur physician, a botanist, a geologist, a swordsman, and a superb raconteur. He penetrated the sacred Muslim cities of Mecca and Medina at great risk and explored the forbidden city of Harar in Somaliland. He searched for the sources of the White Nile and discovered Lake Tanganyika.

Burton's passion was not only for geographical discovery but also for the hidden in man. His enormous erudition on the sexual customs of the East and Africa, long confined by the pruderies of his time, finally found expression in the notes and commentary to his celebrated translation of the unexpurgated Arabian Nights.

For this major biography of one of the most baffling heroes of any era, Fawn M. Brodie has drawn on original sources and a newly discovered collection of letters and papers. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (17)

5-0 out of 5 stars Scholar & Adventurer
Fawn M. Brodie, a professor of history at UCLA, is probably know best for her best-selling Thomas Jefferson: an Intimate History, which revealed to millions of Americans his relationship with his slave, Sally Hemmings.
The Devil Drives: A Life of Sir Richard Burton is a fascinating scholarly, objective portrait of a complex, contradictory man.He was a linguist who learned about 2 dozen languages.He was one of the great explorers of his time.He studied other cultures without bias & became a pioneer in anthropology.He studied the sexual practices of various cultures & translated classic erotic literature, such as the Kama Sutra & The Perfumed Garden.Most famous is his translation of the entire Arabian Nights.He delighted in disguises & dangerous adventures, such as entering Mecca disguised as an Arab.In his search for the source of the Nile, he suffered hunger, thirst, disease & attacks by natives, one of whom threw a spear that pierced both cheeks, leaving a scar that enhanced his usually fierce countenance.
He delayed marriage until middle age & then this skeptic & critic of organized religions chose a devout Catholic, who idealized him & their marriage in her biography of him & bowdlerized him by burning his translation of The Perfumed Garden & his personal journals.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Book!
I am a Fawn Brodie fan. When I'm finished with this I will pick up another of hers!

5-0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Life Well Presented in this Biography
The author presents a very thoroughly researched and well written biographical book on a fascinating life of an early British explorer of East Africa (Burton was the first European explorer to report his "findings" of what is today called Lake Tangenyika). At times the presentation can become tedious but on the whole this is a book well worth reading and a life well worth knowing more about. Beyond his explorations Burton lived, wrote, fought, loved and experienced life to the fullest extent. As many of the other comments from other readers have suggested, his life and how he lived it can be a positive inspiration.

4-0 out of 5 stars Indiana Jones in the flesh...
Richard Burton was an enigmatic, sour, oftentimes neurotic voyeur with the intention of beating his contemporaries and traveling the globe learning and exposing the cultures he came across.Ms. Brodie also has a tie with writing other biographies of sensational men (Joseph Smith, Jr of Mormon fame) and this book is an educated insight into Richard Burton's travels, motives, and surroundings.The maps included along with photographs, illustrations, and excerpts of Burton's own words help move the narrative along.It can be 'old English' tedious, but is well worth the delve into a man that went against the grain in every way.

4-0 out of 5 stars Intriquing and Sometimes Painful
This is a captivating account of a unique and restless individual driven to observe and graphically document the often very cruel life of the Middle East and Africa in the nineteenth-century. This will not bore. ... Read more


29. City of the Saints: And Across the Rocky Mountains to California
by Richard Francis Burton
 Paperback: 578 Pages (1990-06)
list price: US$24.95
Isbn: 0870811916
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Due to the very old age and scarcity of this book, many of the pages may be hard to read due to the blurring of the original text. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars The story of Captain R.Burton's visit to the American west
A fun piece of period reading ... illuminating and a great way to get a feel for the kind of man Captain Richard Burton really was. His propensity to digress completely off topic is clearly seen here, as his penchant for providing the minutest detail about certain subjects he feels would be important to his government. The most intesting parts of the book have to do with his visit to Salt Lake City, early in 1860, when it was still being developed as a Mormon homeland, and his interaction with the various Indian and settler populations along the way during his long overland trip from Missouri to California.

4-0 out of 5 stars Salt Lake City--Burton style.
Sir Richard Burton--master explorer, linguist, and scholar.He is known as the man who brought the Arabian Nights to the English speaking world, and is credited with being partially responsible for the discovery of the source of the Nile.He infiltrated the sacred cities of Medina and Mecca, disguised as an Arab.
So what prompted him to go to Salt Lake City?Burton was at a very difficult stage of his life, and needed a sort of vacation.Plus, according to him, he wanted to "see the Mormons."Some say he was interested in seeing their system of polygamy firsthand, some that he loved to visit sacred cities (having been to Mecca, Medina, Harar, and Damascus).Whatever the reason, he fortunately documented his trip, and we are left with this wonderful look, from an outsider, at "The City of the Saints."
One of the things that makes Burton so great is his absolute objectivity.His account of his visit among the Mormons is no exception.He went, he saw the facts, and he formed his opinions, just as everyone else.What set him apart, though, was that he managed to recount his adventure without the taint of his own bias.
Another great quality of Burton's was his incomparable eye for detail.He noticed everything, and took great pains to discover the history of everything he encountered.The result is a wonderfully rich account full of history and culture that Burton gives us as no other man could.
This is considered to be one of Burton's best books, though it is little known.It is by far the best non-Mormon account of early Salt Lake City that I've ever encountered.Its only flaw is that it is a little drawn out in places, but for the most part, this is a wonderfully detailed account and well worth the read. ... Read more


30. Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton The Secret Agent who made the Pilgramage to Mecca, Discovered the Kama Sutra & brought the Arabian Nights to the West who lived from 1821-1890
by Edward Rice
 Hardcover: Pages (1990)

Asin: B000JCXNEO
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31. In Search of Richard Burton: Papers from a Huntington Library Symposium
by Alan H. Jutzi
Paperback: 142 Pages (1993-01-01)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$11.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0873281403
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Today, the achievements of the great Victorian explorer and linguist Sir Richard Burton (1821-1890) may be more widely acknowledged than they were in his own time. The centennial of his death was marked in England and America with exhibits, conferences, and book-length studies of his life and work.
In this volume, eight leading scholars and book collectors present a remarkable composite picture of Burton's legacy: his adventures as an explorer of unknown lands and little-known cultures; his achievements as a geographer and translator; the mysteries of his relations with other explorers and of his personal life. The illustrations represent rare items in Burton's own library and the collections of Edwards H. Metcalf and Quentin Keynes. ... Read more


32. Sir Richard F. Burton: A Biobibliographical Study
by James A. Casada
 Hardcover: 187 Pages (1991-02)
list price: US$55.00 -- used & new: US$50.00
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Asin: 0816190828
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33. The Highly Civilized Man: Richard Burton and the Victorian World
by Dane Kennedy
Hardcover: 368 Pages (2005-09-30)
list price: US$27.95 -- used & new: US$17.65
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Asin: 0674018621
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Richard Burton was one of Victorian Britain's most protean figures. A soldier, explorer, ethnographer, and polyglot of rare power, as well as a poet, travel writer, and translator of the tales of the Arabian Nights and the Kama Sutra, Burton exercised his abundant talents in a diverse array of endeavors. Though best remembered as an adventurer who entered Mecca in disguise and sought the source of the White Nile, Burton traveled so widely, wrote so prolifically, and contributed so forcefully to his generation's most contentious debates that heprovides us with a singularly panoramic perspective on the world of theVictorians.

One of the great challenges confronting the British in the nineteenth century was to make sense of the multiplicity of peoples and cultures they encountered in their imperial march around the globe. Burton played an important role in this mission. Drawing on his wide-ranging experiences in other lands and intense curiosity about their inhabitants, he conducted an intellectually ambitious, highly provocative inquiry into racial, religious, and sexual differences that exposed his own society's norms to scrutiny.

Dane Kennedy offers a fresh and compelling examination of Burton and his contribution to the widening world of the Victorians. He advances the view that the Victorians' efforts to attach meaning to the differences they observed among other peoples had a profound influence on their own sense of self, destabilizing identities and reshaping consciousness. Engagingly written and vigorously argued, The Highly Civilized Man is an important contribution to our understanding of a remarkable man and a crucial era.

(20051017) ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

2-0 out of 5 stars misguided
Thoroughly researched, with a few interesting finds, but the author is hopelessly trapped in the current academic orthodoxies, which lead him into a dull, turgid, unhelpful analysis of Burton's life. He is at pains to state the obvious i.e. Burton was a product of his age and culture, and not from the future, outer space, or hatched from an egg. And yet when Burton displays Victorian characteristics, the author tuts and disapproves. Was Burton racist? Yes he was, except when he wasn't. Was he sexist? Yes, but not really. Surely there are more interesting and fruitful lines of inquiry into such a rich and varied life as Burton's.

3-0 out of 5 stars A Modern Analysis of Richard Burton
The Highly Civilized Man by Dane Kennedy is the fifth Burton biography that I have read, and I would rank it 4th. In fairness, Kennedy didn't set out to write a biography of one of the most interesting people of the Victorian Era. He really used Sir Richard Francis Burton as an exemplar of the Victorian spirit of science and empire. Burton was unique for the breadth of endeavors in which he excelled and pioneered, but Kennedy demonstrates that the man was also a product of his time -- as much OUTSIDE the box as he was OF the box.

Rather than a mere chronicle of Burton's life, Kennedy takes on different facets of his subject's complex character. Chapters bear such headings as The Gypsy, The Orientalist, The Explorer, The Sexologist, etc. While the order of these sections basically presents the sequence of the major events of Burton's life, there is little if any new information provided, and it is assumed that the reader already knows something about Burton. This book is really more about Dane Kennedy's take on his subject rather than the subject himself.

It is appropriate, given Kennedy's contention that Burton represented the thinking of his age, that the analysis presented in The Highly Civilized Man is very much representative of its time. Just as Fawn Brodie's interpretation of Burton is steeped in the psychoanalytical mumbo jumbo of the 1960s, this book tars Burton with the current trendy labels of modern humanities scholarship. In a decade, the -ists and -isms of The Highly Civilized Man will likely seem quite dated.

If you are only going to read one biography of Sir Richard Francis Burton, then I can't recommend this one. The hands-down best is A Rage to Live by Mary Lovell. However, that book is pretty long, and if you are not looking for that kind of commitment, check out Burton by Byron Farwell.

3-0 out of 5 stars Nuanced
A critical study of Sir Richard Burton. Most of his biographers, bowldered by the epic nature of their subject (understandably so, this is one remarkable guy), often smooth over some real contradictions in his thought, less than favorable interpretations, etc.. This author brings Richard under real scrutiny, examining his views on religion, sex, race, and his persona as a "explorer" or "impersonator"; Not much new info; just bringing to light what is usually in the background of most biographies. Perhaps a finer portrait emerges of the man- though its undeniable that some of his statements- esp about race were wildly contradicting. He tries to demonstrate how Victorian attitudes influenced who Burton was- which is obvious in a way, he knew what his countrymen would find shocking and played on it- thus building his persona as a man who flaunted social conventions, though of course in other respects- sexuality, his Stone Talk work- he didn't cater to anyone, - one thing I couldn't help noticing, and which Kennedy points out, though a compulsive, prolific author, and highly opinionated, Burton was not a particularly good writer.

5-0 out of 5 stars Sir Captain Richard - a Precursor to Modernism
Nineteenth century Western colonialism and imperialism including the Industrial revolution changed Western values and social perceptions and mores, but more so, our awareness of the world as a whole, in terms of defining ourselves against difference. The Victorian influence towards modernism is far greater than historians first realized. One of the most romantic and pivotal figures of the Victorian age was Sir Captain Richard Burton. In Kennedy's critical biographical overview of the man's life and thought, unlike most of the numerous biographies to date, attempts to represent and reinterpret Burton's life and thought in the context of the Victorian era. By doing this, he proposes, we come to understand this highly complex genius in terms of the historical values of the time.

Kennedy outlines Burton's numerous accomplishments as a prolific writer, linguist, (twenty-five languages and many dialects) explorer, archaeologist, spy, amateur physician, translator, artist, poet, expert swordsman and sexologist. He wrote over twenty-five travel volumes containing his many adventures, and translated the Kumar Sutra and The Arabian Nights which is the most often read an quoted in present time. Similar to many of his contemporaries, his studies of Orientalism and African cultures were done in the spirit of difference, or the `other'. Kennedy's thesis is that Burton was a product of the Victorian age but an important precursor to modernism.

As the 19th century has a virtual endless list of incredible men and women, according to Kennedy, what set Burton apart, was "...restless determination to extend the reach of his experience to ever more pockets of humanity and to draw insights from those increasingly varied encounters in order to advance the larger epistemological quest to understand, explain, and classify difference." (p.270) Burton's vast written work, his copious notes and observations reveals this holy quest, his unwavering pursuit of hidden knowledge and knowledge of the `other', strange cultures and bizarre religions until his death in 1895.

The author devotes most of his analysis on Burton's works as a sexologist. Burton's many erotic translations, promoting his notion that Victorian repression of sexual matters and desire is tremendously unhealthy, paved the way for future sexologists to study the subject within a scientific framework. His controversial translations and writings also revealed a sexual hypocrisy that the Victorian age is infamously known for. Rather than study sex on moral grounds, Burton proposed a relativist position, attributing different climates around the world to certain sexual behaviours. We know this to be nonsense, however, including this premise, Burton achieved distance from the moral position, giving his subject a form of objectivity.

Dane Kennedy's approach to Burton is a fresh perspective of the man. He was an individual that accomplished more in one lifetime than many, but he was a man of his times, attempting to define the identity of western culture during a period of vast change. Despite over one hundred years since his death, even a critical appraisal of his life and work, does not in any way lessen his accomplishment nor profound influence in the Romantic age towards modernism.

A Highly Civilized man is a fresh and well-written account of an icon of the Romantic-Victorian age.

3-0 out of 5 stars Early 21st century scrutiny of a 19th century Subject
A thoughtful book which most of the time attaches its arguments firmly to sources, scrupulously researched. A little verbose at times, tending to fall prey to the current academic fashion of attaching a superfluity of labels (particularly those ending in -ist) to its subject. Certainly there's the intention to 'de-mythologize' Burton and expose him to some quite valid criticisms, as well as plaudits. Kennedy reminds us that J.L. Burckhardt, not Burton, was the first European to travel on the Hajj in disguise. He suggests that in Burton's day, such disguise would only really have been necessary to enter the holiest places; simply because Burton could have professed conversion to Islam. I'm uncomfortable on those occasions when Kennedy states speculation as fact, for example (p63): 'Burton saw an opportunity to tap into this rich vein of curiosity by undertaking the pilgrimage to Mecca and exposing the city and its Muslim faithful to the scrutiny of his Christian Countrymen'. And then, later: "It must be understood, however, that Burton's decision to undertake a hajj in an "Oriental" disguise was directed as much at a British audience as it was at the Muslims with whom he associated during the journey." Although the facts are suggestive that this may be true, no proof is given - that would be very hard to do.

Kennedy concludes (p92) "There is little doubt that Burton too was attracted to impersonation precisely because it provided a way of transgressing against the codes and conventions that governed society, challenging the psychic shackles imposed by civilization." This conclusion could be a little superficial: we might also add that his daily dress of grotesque beard; eyes sometimes ringed with kohl; the brandishing of iron cane, pistol or navaja and his frequent adoption of a truly wicked and fearsome persona ("to shock"), could well have been a part of the same charade - whose ultimate purpose was to divert attention away from self. Did Burton suffer from some profound insecurity and a distaste for who he really was? Was he truly the "Sheep in wolf's clothing" that W.S. Blunt claims? The book had perhaps an opportunity to take this further.

The point is raised that, far from hacking their way through virgin African forest - unexplored territory - as is the general impression (my own, anyway), Burton and Speke took advantage of well-trodden arteries which had been used for slave and ivory traffic by Arab traders for generations - affording themselves of the supply infrastructure and information sources already in place to tend these parties. Wielding what must surely be humour, Kennedy observes that Burton was faced with insurmountable difficulties in the use of disguise on his African expeditions.

The subject of race and Burton's undeniable racism threads its way unceasingly through this book. Kennedy uses the word `troubling' numerous times when confronting it. He employs an early 21st century scrutiny to pass clear judgment on a latter 19th century culture - perhaps unconsciously setting relativism aside.

In 1633, Galileo Galilei was forced to abjure and recant his prior assertion of "...having held and believed that the sun is the center of the world and immovable, and that the earth is not the center and moves." Although we are dumbfounded by this today, we shouldn't be. There are dogmas in place in 2006 which no historian or anthropologist dares to contradict - on pain of professional suicide and even jail in a few countries. These dogmas touch upon versions of history enforced by law and statements upon the subject of race that are officially held to be modern heresies. Thus when judging Burton by the measures of our day with regard to racial matters and, then, reversing the scrutiny and weighing this book's criticisms by my own unfashionable standards; I, as a reader, am forced to conclude that neither one of them has the right of it. I am hit on the nose by the consequences of relativism!

Burton had good and bad to say about everybody - and an awful lot of the bad is directed at white Victorian society (which is nowhere labeled `racism'). The scientist in Burton (and he was a very good one I think) brought out his objectivity; the human being railed mightily and emotionally against slights, insults and injustices; some the consequence of his own misguided actions; some dead on target. I think Kennedy walks into the pitfall of early 21st century political correctness: time and again he is so troubled by negative remarks made concerning a particular race, yet seems to accept those that are positive without demur. In true critique, must we not take exception to all such generalizations? Burton made `hurtful' observations on colour and physiognomy which, I predict, in future times, will be done in the painless language of DNA base-pairs.

Certainly Kennedy cites instances where Burton takes relativistic stands, such as (p155): "There is more of equality between the savage and the civilizee - the difference being one of quantity, not of quality - than the latter will admit. For every man is everywhere commensurate with man". Kennedy then asks "How can these remarks be reconciled with Burton's insistence on the innate inferiority of the African?" Having raised the idea that the contradictions could be ascribed to "an undisciplined and volatile mind", Kennedy points out that such a conclusion would cause us to:

"... miss what may have been Burton's most intriguing contribution to Victorian conception of race. His understanding of race as a closed space defined by difference serves a double purpose: it supports the standard racists' contention that biology is destiny, but it also ventures the view that races have their own systems of beliefs and behaviour, each incommensurate with the other and implicitly standing against a universalist standard of values."

Doesn't that take rather a lot of words to say (without any of the promised reconciliation) that Burton was inconsistent: giving the Victorians a fresh new viewpoint on race while at the same time reinforcing their old prejudices?

The chapter entitled "The Sexologist" thoroughly covers a lot of well-trodden ground; over-trodden one might say. On homosexuality, Kennedy is of the opinion that Burton had probably actually indulged and cites a rather telling letter of Swinburn's in support, yet, knowing this was rather likely (even close to certain), so what? What more can be written about Burton? The answer is evident here: very little. This, by the way, is not a criticism of the book.

The final chapter "The Afterlife" is for me one of the more interesting. Kennedy speculates on Burton's spiritual beliefs and brings out his agnosticism as well as his horror of annihilation at death. In "A Glance at the Passion Play" (I quote the full context which Kennedy doesn't), Burton says (p165), on Spiritualism, " it satisfies a real want, a crave which is to millions - a part only of our kind but numbering millions - the bread of moral life." He then offers a `Spiritualist's Decalogue' of which Kennedy quotes article VI "Death, physically considered, dissolves a certain organic unity; it is not, however, annihilation, but change."

This was an astute selection by Kennedy and brings us closer to an understanding of Burton's spirituality.


... Read more


34. Richard Burton (World's Great Explorers)
by Charnan Simon
 Library Binding: 128 Pages (1991-06)
list price: US$28.20
Isbn: 0516030620
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Follows the life and accomplishments of Richard Burton, African explorer, Islamic scholar, discoverer of Lake Tanganyika, and translator of "The Arabian Nights." ... Read more


35. Richard Burton: A Traveller in Brazil, 1865-1868
by Alfredo Cordiviola
 Hardcover: 351 Pages (2000-12)
list price: US$119.95 -- used & new: US$119.95
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Asin: 0773476458
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This work is a study on "The Highlands of Brazil", the travel chronicle written by Sir Richard Burton in 1869. It deals with visions of modernity and perceptions of the future. Taking Burton's narrative as point of departure, it focuses on a rhetorical pattern that can be traced back to the 16th century, that of a "land of the future". It examines how that discourse was reinvented and applied thoughout the second half of the 19th century, while simultaneously being questioned or abandoned by less optimistic interpreters. It takes other texts into consideration: those written by foreign visitors such as Arthur de Gobineau, Louis Aggassiz, Johann Spix, Karl Martius, William Hadfield, and those by Brazilian authors such as Silvio Romero, Andre Reboucas, Nina Rodrigues, and Euclides da Cunha. It also examines the years Richard Burton spent in Brazil. ... Read more


36. Falconry in the Valley of the Indus (Oxford in Asia Historical Reprints)
by Richard Francis Burton
Hardcover: 112 Pages (1997-05-15)
list price: US$32.00
Isbn: 0195777379
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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One of the lesser known works about India by the eminent Victorian explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton, Falconry in the Valley of Indus is not just a book on the once-popular sport of falconry, it is a significant recording of the culture of Sindh. In this lively narrative first published in 1852, Burton reveals the mores and manners of the landed gentry in Sindh while providing the gory details of a sport they practiced with passion. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Entertaining look at falconry practices 150 years ago.
Richard Burton describes his experiences living in the Sindh province (modern day Pakistan).He details the various birds of prey used by the falconers, and relates the tales of his hunting expeditions.

This is definately not a how-to book, rather it is a glimpse at the history of falconry as it was practiced in the Indus valley. ... Read more


37. Richard F. Burton (Twayne's English Authors Series)
by Glenn S. Burne
 Hardcover: 184 Pages (1985-12)
list price: US$25.95
Isbn: 080576903X
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38. The Gold-Mines of Midian
by Richard F. Burton
Paperback: 416 Pages (1995-10-13)
list price: US$10.95 -- used & new: US$7.03
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Asin: 0486287394
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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A fascinating chronicle of Burton's 1877 expedition to locate gold and other valuable metals in the Arabian peninsula.
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Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Historical Treasure
It was wonderful to secure this unassuming volume for my personal library!Filled with actual diary entries by Sir Richard, it carries the reader through a 19th century travelogue which bares unexpected fruit relative to the historical veracity of the Holy Bible!

1-0 out of 5 stars Troubled, Mistitled, Schizophrenic
For the first time in my readership of Burton, the author avoids criticizing, belittling or scorning his travel companions, largely because his travel companions are little to the purpose.

Unfortunately, most of what Burton writes is little to the purpose. Like his other works, I expected this to be a knowledgeable travelogue and journal of discovery, but a discovery of what? Burton spends the first quarter of the book discussing Alexandria and Cairo before he gets underway (this last detail almost lost in the maze of other irrelevant observations). He names every sedimentary formation and every flower on his route, and then disputes or corrects every historical observation on Midian -- Biblical, Greek, Latin and Arab. When someone washes a handful of sand and exposes a tiny nugget of gold (presumably the intended core of this book), the detail itself appears as a small nugget amidst so much worthless sand.

From time to time, a promising anecdote or observation on a Biblical place or event raises clarity above the labyrinth, only to plunge again and at length.

Glutted with learning, too heavy for the non-scholarly reader, thick with observations of questionable relevance, and fraught with meaningless, private anecdotes, the book taxes the reader considerably. Use caution. ... Read more


39. Catalogue of the Library of Sir Richard Burton, K. C. M. G.
by B. J. Kirkpatirck
 Paperback: 182 Pages (1978-06)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$20.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0900632135
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40. Wanderings in West Africa
by Richard F. Burton
 Paperback: 624 Pages (1991-10-07)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$9.01
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 048626890X
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Great Victorian scholar-adventurer recounts long journey to British diplomatic post at Fernando Po, expeditions to African mainland. Invaluable descriptions of African tribal rituals concerning birth, marriage and death, and of tribal fetishism, ritual murder, cannibalism, exotic sexual practices, more. Preface. 1 illustration. 1 foldout map.
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Customer Reviews (5)

1-0 out of 5 stars Did he ever even go to West Africa?
"Wanderings in West Africa"…where does one begin…
Well, for starters, perhaps the book should be more aptly titled Wonderings about West Africa.
Perhaps one’s impression of the book depends on what one expects. I expected a traditional travel/adventure narrative, not a commentary about Euro-African politics, African culture, ethnography (incredibly racist by the way), geography, etc., that could have easily been written from Sir Richard Burton’s study, with access to a moderately well-stocked library. Indeed, there is very little evidence from the book itself that Sir Richard ever even visited the West African coast – that is how detached the actual words are from what he must have actually encountered.
According to his own narrative, Sir Richard never stayed in any one place more than 24 hours, yet in his writings he expands his writings on each of those locales to 50+ pages! While the book is titled Wanderings in Africa, nearly half of the entire first volume is about his preparation for the trip and getting to Africa – making the reader wonder if he will ever read about Sir Richard’s magnificent wanderings in Africa at all.
Besides all that, Sir Richard’s arrogance, nationalism, and outright racism is painfully evident throughout (e.g. “I believe the European to be the brains, the Asiatic the heart, the American and African the arms, and the Australian to the feet of the man-figure. …in the various degrees of intellectuality, the Negro ranks between the Australian and the Indian…).
Annoyingly enough though, while considering the French manifestly the inferiors of Englishmen, he nevertheless feels it necessary to pepper his narrative with numerous French quotes to demonstrate his sophistication (which the editors have very helpfully refrained from translating) – he did after all consider himself a man of the world. The book is also filled with numerous and very long footnotes, sometimes right in the middle of a sentence or a thought, making the reading very choppy and difficult.
From the perspective of the entertainment, as well as the intellectual value of this book, I give it one star out of five…a waste of intellect, time, paper, and ink…

5-0 out of 5 stars Richard F. Burton
Richard Burton's world travels are not unique.From the paleolithic onward documentations of man's trekking have been found.Capt. Burton writes much about his travels.Personal commments about the topography and people and their customs reflect the prevailing attitudes of the society from which he comes.Some observations are uncharitable, but others are of interest. Burton's eye for detail makes for fascinating reading.The intelligentsia of that period used foreign, mostly French phrases, i.e., au contraire, en passant, or other languages, Spanish, some Greek and or Latin.Many times the usage is incorrectly used, it illustrates a person of learning. That this work shows the beginning of European colonialism, the true value of this author is fascinating adventure.

3-0 out of 5 stars Burton, coastal explorer of West Africa
In WANDERINGS IN WEST AFRICA, the future Sir Richard Burton starts out with his departure from Liverpool and his arrival in Madeira, stops briefly in Tenerife (Island of the guanches in the Canary Islands) then heads down the coast (still onboard the A.S.S. Blackland), around Cape Verde and Goree, to Bathurst on St. Mary Island off Cape St. Mary near the mouth of the Gambia, then around the hump of Africa, past Elmina and Cape Coast Castle, and eventually reaches the island then known as Fernando Po (named after a Portuguese officer, Fernao do Po - now Bioko, a part of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea) near the more familiar islands of Principe and Sao Tome. Along the way, there are many vivid descriptions of people and locations.

At Tenerife, Burton provides a short account of the conquest of the guanches and describes them as being dark-complexioned [curiously, Peter Russell, in his excellent biography PRINCE HENRY 'THE NAVIGATOR' which recounts the beginnings of European involvement in West Africa, describes them as "probably fair-haired" based on descriptions in primary Portuguese sources].

At St. Mary's, Bathurst, he impugns Mungo Park, a well-known explorer, disparaging the latter with phrases such as "[s]o Park calls the Bomax," referring to the term "bentang" - even though a "bentenki" tree plays a role in the Lion of Manding in Courlanger's A TREASURY OF AFRICAN FOLKTALES.He also refers to Mumbo Jumbo (also mentioned by Francis Moore), which Park didn't come across until further from the coast, and coffles of slaves as "genius," implying they are fictional - notably, he fails to mention that Park wrote before the British interdiction on slave trading. The entire attack is sadly reminiscent of Burton's actions and statements in relation to J. H. Speke in Alan Moorehead's THE WHITE NILE. Here, we are also introduced to his rather curious views on Africans - (1) the "noble" race which includes Berbers and Mandingos, (2) the "ignoble" race which includes "pure-blood" or typical Africans and (3) Kaffirs or others he thinks may also be biracial. Later, we are treated to something of the history of the establishment of El Mina and Cape Coast Castle as well as the cruel type of slavery practiced by the Efiks of Calabar - a comparison with slavery in the contemporaneous South of the United States being quite to the benefit of the latter!

All in all, the work is highly entertaining if frequently superior and derogatory to any and all with whom Mr. Burton disagrees or whom he dislikes; however, where neither Mr. Burton's desire for glory nor his prejudices come into play, the book appears to be generally accurate and informative.

3-0 out of 5 stars Valuable & readable for students of African history
Note:I am resubmitting this review so it will not be anonymous...

One must come to Burton's "Wanderings in West Africa" with the understanding that there are not a lot of primary (first-hand) sources ofinformation about Atlantic coast Africa in the 19th century. Furthermore,the majority of books about Africa of this era (mostly by explorers andmissionaries; few or none by Africans) are long out of print and can onlybe accessed in mjor libraries. Given that, Burton's work is a valuable andreadable account of a voyage along Africa's West Coast, as far south asFernando Po (Equatorial Guinea). (We should be thankful for the publisher.)His text is direct and readable. The account is chronological, port byport. Burton describes the the places and people and whatever catches hisinterest. His opinion is always present. Burton goes into manydetails--trade, early colonial administration, rulers, languages, etc.--andit is unlikely that any one reader would be interested in all of it, butmost students of African history are likely to find something of interest.There is no index.It should be noted that Burton has plenty of scorn anddisdain for many of the Africans he encounters (as well as for manyEuropeans); this is typical for Burton, but may upset a reader who is newto this writer.

Many of the names (of places, tribes, etc.) areantiquated so a good reference book is a help.

Overall this is notBurton's best book, but it does have a place along with his other books onAfrica ("First Footsteps in East Africa", "The Lake Regionsof Central Africa") and it adds something of value to the reputationof the great writer, explorer, traveler, and translator who produced"Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al Madinah and Mecca" and"The Arabian Nights".

3-0 out of 5 stars Valuable & readable for students of African history
One must come to Burton's "Wanderings in West Africa" with the understanding that there are not a lot of primary (first-hand) sources of information about Atlantic coast Africa in the 19th century.Furthermore, the majority of books about Africa of this era (mostly by explorers andmissionaries; few or none by Africans) are long out of print and can onlybe accessed in mjor libraries.Given that, Burton's work is a valuable andreadable account of a voyage along Africa's West Coast, as far south asFernando Po (Equatorial Guinea). (We should be thankful for the publisher.) His text is direct and readable. The account is chronological, port byport.Burton describes the the places and people and whatever catches hisinterest.His opinion is always present.Burton goes into manydetails--trade, early colonial administration, rulers, languages, etc.--andit is unlikely that any one reader would be interested in all of it, butmost students of African history are likely to find something of interest. There is no index.

It should be noted that Burton has plenty of scornand disdain for many of the Africans he encounters (as well as for manyEuropeans); this is typical for Burton, but may upset a reader who is newto this writer.

Many of the names (of places, tribes, etc.) areantiquated so a good reference book is a help.

Overall this is notBurton's best book, but it does have a place along with his other books onAfrica ("First Footsteps in East Africa", "The Lake Regionsof Central Africa") and it adds something of value to the reputationof the great writer, explorer, traveler, and translator who produced"Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al Madinah and Mecca" and"The Arabian Nights". ... Read more


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