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Burton: A Biography Of Sir Richard Francis Burton Audio, Cassette – January 2, 1992

4.5 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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From the Publisher

14 1.5-hour cassettes
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Product Details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: Books on Tape, Inc. (January 2, 1992)
  • ISBN-10: 0736620982
  • ISBN-13: 978-0736620987
  • Shipping Information: View shipping rates and policies
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,879,793 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I have read several biographies of Burton and this is by far the best. Byron Farwell has produced an excellent biography of a unique Victorian who led a life of incredible energy and movement. In fact, Burton seemed to find it impossible to stay in one place. Not always a likeable fellow, Burton lived for adventure. His dangerous journey into the Islamic holy city of Mecca , dressed as a Muslim and speaking fluent Arabic, vies with his discovery of Lake Tanganyika (with Speke) as the most famous of his exploits. But Farwell also describes many less well known adventures - Burton travelled to Salt Lake City in 1859 where he interviewed Brigham Young. He was British Consul in West Africa, Damascus, and Santos, Brazil. Burton usually completely ignored any duties he was given by his employer (Farwell says he was "unemployable"). Incredibly, much of his exploring was done while on dubious sick leave from the Indian Army. Farwell brings out Burton as an explorer of cultures and a scholar as well as a geographic explorer - Burton translated the Arabian Nights and other major oriental works. I particularly enjoyed the chapters on Burton's early life, starting as an extremely naughty boy and maturing into an exceptional young swordsman who wrote a book on bayonet drill later adopted as the standard work by the British Army. Farwell is clearly fascinated, as well as sometimes exasperated by his subject.
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Format: Paperback
Burton by Byron Farwell is the fourth biography of Sir Richard Francis Burton that I have read -- I might have a little bit of an obsession. But, in my defense, since I want to BE him, it is necessary to do the research. Burton was a giant among the several 19th century explorers of Africa and the Middle East, a brilliant linguist and a prolific (if prolix) geographer and scientist.

As emphasized by Farwell, Burton is most fascinating in his complexity, in the numerous conflicts that comprised his character. Burton longed to suffer the fevers and hardship associated with an overland caravan, but he could not tolerate (without copious complaints) the minor inconveniences of more civilized travel. Throughout his life, he remained loyal to Queen and Country, while at the same time confrontationally challenging the policies and patients of his supervisors in the Foreign Office. A student of all religions but practitioner of none, he married a woman for whom her God was everything. Burton vigorously sought fame and fortune through his actions and endeavors, but he could never come up with a consistent plan -- instead, he favored get-rich-quick schemes. Eventually, he was knighted and struck it big with his publication of A Thousand Nights and a Night, and then... he died.

Of the Burton biographies that I have studied, Farwell's treatment has certain advantages for the amateur Burtonologist. The prose is well written, fast paced and insightful. The details are ably researched and the author comes off as an unbiased admirer without an agenda beyond trying to understand the Man. Other volumes on Burton, while more dense and scholarly, tend to be a bit more slanted.
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Format: Paperback
Farwell's biography of the extrordinary life of Capt. Sir Richard F. Burton is a fine work. Farwell's excellent style and knowledge of the 19th century are perfect backdrops to the the exploits of "Ruffian Dick". The author manages to point out Burtons many talents and shortcomings in a fair, scholarly manner, without physco-babble or hero-worship. Yet more importantly, Burton's life is allowed to unfold as what it truly was, a grand adventure, full of exotic places, eccentric characters, brilliant victories and stinging defeats. Many biographies have been written concerning Burton, many are very good, but Farwell has managed to bring to life this truly larger then life personality
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Format: Paperback
Having read "footsteps" and "the devil drives" one so esoteric the other an oversimplification, it was a plesant surprise to read about Capt Burton and not just his journeys as a detached observor. It is hard to believe that a man of such an intellectual force in so many areas is almost unknown to the common person.

Farwell's recount the life and the adventures of this remarkable man is an enjoyable read. The book left me shaking my head and muttering, "unbelievable". If you are interested in this Capt Burton this is the book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have read Farwell's and Rice's biography of Sir Richard Francis Burton and generally speaking, preferred the former to the latter. Farwell is more concise and more easily readable. Rice is more lengthy and delves into greater detail but often loses the forest for the trees. Burton himself tends to be verbose and led a hectic, almost frantic life and Rice tends to mirror that. As Farwell makes clear he was juvenile delinquent as a youth - Rice documents his antics to a greater degree - and became a famous adventurer, a true life Errol Flynn. Either biography is fine, but if you want a fast overview, start with Farwell and then consider Rice.
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Format: Hardcover
. . . is Richard Francis Burton. To quote from the Introduction to this biography of him, "He made significant contributions to the world in the fields of literature and geography. He was also a poet, traveller, soldier, diplomat, inventor, author, explorer, archaeologist, linguist, anthropologist, student of religions and more besides." Most of all, he was an adventurer. Burton is an attractive subject for a biographer. This is the second biography that I have read, and there must be at least a dozen more. Although now over fifty years old, this one by Byron Farwell remains a good one.

Burton was born in 1821. He had an unconventional upbringing, and he turned out to be a very unconventional man. He was expelled from Oxford and then joined the Honourable East India Company. He loved to travel and observe humanity in all its anthropological diversity. His two most famous excursions were (a) to the forbidden cities of Mecca and Medina, where he went disguised as a Muslim Pathan from Afghanistan, and (b) into East Africa, where he was the first European to discover Lake Tanganyika and just missed being the first to discover Lake Victoria and the source of the Nile. His travels were facilitated by his linguistic skills; he could speak more than twenty-five languages. During his life he wrote and published thirty books and translated or edited another eleven, including what remains one of the leading translations of "The Arabian Nights." In his later years, he served as British Consul in such places as Fernando Po, Dahomey, Brazil, Damascus, and Trieste.

Farwell's BURTON covers the man in moderate detail.
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