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The Richard Burton Diaries Hardcover – October 23, 2012
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“The most salient part of The Richard Burton Diaries (now out in paperback from Yale University Press and a far superior 'beach read' to any Revenge Wears Prada folderol) is not the great Welsh actor’s fabled love of language, his stage fright or his splurges on private airplanes and pedigreed jewels for the love of his life, Elizabeth Taylor.”—Alexandra Jacobs, The New York Times (Alexandra Jacobs The New York Times 2013-07-15)
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Top Customer Reviews
Credit must be given to Burton's widow Sally. She generously donated the set of diaries to Swansea University and made this book possible. She knew how much of the content referred to her husband's (in)famous marriages to Elizabeth Taylor; a lesser woman might have destroyed the diaries out of jealousy. Sally receives the editor's highest praise for her donation and her "wonderfully supportive" assistance. Many members of the Jenkins-Burton-Taylor families are also credited, and the list shows what a work of love this book is.
Chris Williams, a professor of Welsh history and former director of the Richard Burton Centre for the Study of Wales, has taken on the mammoth task of making the diaries more accessible to the general reader. He footnotes the first mention of people, places and things, providing dates of birth (and death) and a brief line or two of biography; locations, full titles, dates of publication, translations, etc. Burton was extremely well read, and the footnotes provide detailed info about the books Burton casual refers to. Williams admits uncertainty in a few spots, but his devotion to the task is unquestionable. He usually corrects Burton's spelling, but there are a few very minor blips (e.g. Burton refers to "Barbara Streisand" in April of 1969 and Williams' footnote also has "Barbara"...Read more ›
Reading the diaries of the peripatetic Burton -- actor, icon and bon vivant -- I am transported to the sunny coast of Italy, to a trattoria in Portofino, a movie set in Rome, a late-night cabal with film and stage luminaries; and to a quiet beach in Puerto Vallarta on which to stroll with pet dogs, nannies, children and wife -- "en famille," as the great orator might say. I can almost hear his voice.
Speaking of that voice, Burton's command of the language, in fact, many languages (Welsh, English, French, Italian, Spanish, Latin, to name a few) is marvelous. Readers are treated to snippets of classics from Shakespeare to Pepys to The Bible served up as commonly and elegantly as rich, homey soup. Good enough to eat and to keep warm by. (Did I mention the weather outside?) But let me get back to Burton -- when he sizzles.
As he does with his various nicknames for Elizabeth, which are marvelous, too, and hilarious. To wit: Cantank, Shumdit, Quick Take, Short Take, Bon Apetito, Booby, Milady, Glorious, to name but a scant few. I fell out of bed laughing.
Here is a man in love with his wife, his children, his animals. He has the charm and innocence of a boy, not quite grown up, who continually takes himself to task for not doing a better job as husband, father, caregiver. One loves him all the more for it.
He is exceedingly honest about his vices, as when he mentions how much he drinks (3 bottles of vodka one day, which was often par for the course), what diet he's on, whether E (Elizabeth) is looking fat.Read more ›
Richard Burton is surprisingly forthright at times, but he doesn't reveal all. Included here are assorted tasty bits about some very famous people. Standout stories involve actors, Rex Harrison and his wife Rachel Roberts. Their escapades - or more specifically Rachel's - are outrageous and downright hilarious. In Taylor and Burton's orbit, the drinks never stopped coming, and Rachel turned into a raving maniac when intoxicated. Other anecdotes involve: Princess Margaret, Tennessee Williams, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and Maria Callas. On the more mundane side, you get travelogue like descriptions of people, places and food, being the couple was constantly traveling. Some find this boring, but not me. Richard's writing is engaging throughout, and his many yarns will leave you wanting to have been part of their crew.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fascinating read. Lots of details about he and Elizabeth, nothing racy or anything like that, Just insight into their daily life. I enjoyed reading this bookPublished 6 days ago by Amazon Customer
While I haven't gotten a chance to read it, it's published really well. It's dated and has many footnotes for young people like me who aren't really familiar with Burton except for... Read morePublished 4 months ago by al-Halabi
Great and self-aware (did not realize we all be reading) reporter of his thoughts....At times Burton is truly hysterical.......Published 5 months ago by charles g washburn
Don't believe the other so called biographies, biopics or documentaries, about Richard and the Love between he and Elizabeth. His diaries are are the truth! Read morePublished 6 months ago by T. Backhaus
I cannot overstate how much I enjoyed reading The Richard Burton Diaries. The man was a born written, and I regret that he actually didn't turn out to be a novelist as well as a... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Steven M. Mascaro
I was disappointed at how much of a 'poor me' guy he was. I kept looking for him to 'snap out it' but....it didn't happen. Read morePublished 7 months ago by newtou
"Diary is great, but one star off for the horrible, horrible footnote frenzy." - my husband, who read the book. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Mom@Home