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City of the Saints: And Across the Rocky Mountains to California Paperback – June, 1990
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First published in 1861, this book is an account of Sir Richard F. Burton's 1860 trip to Salt Lake City. The British explorer and ethnologist (1821-90) describes the customs of the Mormon community and his meeting with the church's leader, the prophet Brigham Young, founder of the city. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top customer reviews
This is not the best edition of this book; I recommend spending more money for a properly formatted and illustrated edition.
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.