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Burton: A Biography of Sir Richard Francis Burton Paperback – July 3, 1990
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.