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Burnham: King of Scouts Hardcover – September 25, 2003

3.5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

The author is a fitting choice to write about Fred Burnham, the American who inspired the Boy Scouts. In 1965, he met Burnham's son, Roderick, who had accompanied his father to Africa in 1893. Rod spent a decade providing the author with recollections, books, diaries, journals and newspaper and magazine articles.

But the great prize, forty years of private correspondence between Burnham and Baden-Powell, was not unsealed from the archives at Yale University until AD 2000.

The author has been a foreign correspondent in the Far East and has written for Readers Digest and other magazines. While on assignment for U.S. News & World Report in Africa, he retraced Major Burnham's exciting adventures with Colonel Robert Baden-Powell. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 584 pages
  • Publisher: Trafford Publishing; First Edition edition (September 25, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1412200288
  • ISBN-13: 978-1412200288
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,077,085 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By James Stevens on October 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
Fred Burnham wrote "Taking Chances" and "Scouting on Two Continents" - biographies written from his point of view.

This book/novel fills in some of the holes in the facts of what the modest Fred Burnham didn't include.
The author draws upon information not available until 2000 - a collection of private letters between Burnham and Baden-Powell stored under seal in the Yale Library.

I have read many books about Fred Burnham and that mention Fred Burnham.
(Biographies of Winston Churchill mention Fred Burnham cause Burnham saved Churchill's life during the Boer War in South Africa.)
This book one is a welcome addition to my collection of African Tales.

Burnham's exploits never fail to amaze me.
His attention to detail is complete.
His ability to see detail, while prevailing in the most trying of conditions, are so advanced that mere mortals can only dream of having that level of perception of their environment.
He doesn't seem to have realized the extent of his mental and physical gifts.
Its seems like the complicated information that Burnham collected,processed,interpreted and communicated while scouting came to him as easily as if normal people were checking to see if it was raining.
But it wasn't that simple - he dedicated himself to the study of the details that would keep him alive in lands filled with tribal strife - the American West and South Africa.
In this modern world of instant gratification its hard for today's men & women, outside the elite military units like SEALS, SAS, Delta Force, to understand the importance of the art & craft of true scouting behind enemy lines.

I truly believe that Homer would have included Fred Burnham in the Iliad as a major figure if Burnham had lived in that time... That's how singular and brilliant he was.
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Format: Hardcover
I have read Burnham’s own Scouting on Two Continents, so I was eagerly looking for more material on this fascinating character. Wow was I disappointed.
First: as someone else noted it desperately needs an editor. The writing style jumps all over the place. Sometimes it appears as jumbled notes, sometime narrative, sometimes snide remarks but always jarring.
Second: as a biography it seems van Wyk didn’t get around to reading Burnham’s own book as a whole lot of biography was left out, specifically about the Arizona years.
Third: Promised new information. What a disappointment. Almost nothing new except a couple of letters from Baden-Powell and some info apparently lifted from Haggard’s description of Burnham (with a sudden change of voice)
Fourth: Disparaging Baden-Powell. Van Wyk spends an inordinate amount of time writing disparaging remarks about Baden-Powell. I get it, Baden-Powell grew up relatively privileged, Burnham did not. But the book is about Burnham, not Baden-Powell, and it seems like every section had to contain innuendo and personal slaps at Baden-Powell, that had nothing to do with the Burnham story. Question, if Baden-Powell was such a terrible person why did Burnham (who was a great judge of character) like and respect him so much.
In summary, I found the book a great disappointment, a waste of time and money. I would suggest you read Burham’s own book, or Haggard’s, or Baden-Powells odd comments for better insights to this amazing character.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Copyright 2003, Peter van Wyk ISBN 1-4120=0901-4

This comment relates to the interest and knowledge conveyed to me by the book. An assessment of style and typography would find other points to be at fault to an extent that would relate to the stylist's benchmarks. The biographical novel of the life of Fred Burnham does however show key events of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; in North America, Britain and South Africa, and there is not a boring page in the 500 plus book.

The story is of the life of Fred Burnham, a man who was clearly unique. It appears to closely follow the set out of a book by Burnham called "Scouting on Two Continents".
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Format: Paperback
It's good, but it was published on-demand by the author and could have used a professional editor to clean it up a bit.

Also, although it's a novel it would have been nice to have an introduction, bibliography, and notes, and generally some more explanation.
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