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Rich: The Life of Richard Burton Hardcover – 19 Sep 1988

4.1 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 533 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton; 1st edition (19 Sept. 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340405376
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340405376
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15 x 4.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 335,267 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Melvyn Bragg is a writer and broadcaster. His novels include The Hired Man, for which he won the Time/Life Silver Pen Award, Without a City Wall, winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, The Soldier's Return, winner of the WHSmith Literary Award, A Son of War and Crossing the Lines, both of which were longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, A Place in England, which was longlisted for the Lost Man Booker Prize, and most recently Grace and Mary. He has also written several works of non-fiction, including The Book of Books about the King James Bible. He lives in London and Cumbria.

Product Description

Review

'Thanks to Melvyn Bragg's wholly admirable book, he will be reborn to many as a lovable, suffering, complex human being' (Anthony Burgess, Independent)

'An impressive achievement which appears destined to become that rare creature, a literary and a popular success' (Mail on Sunday)

'Fascinating...Will be deservedly successful as an honourable record of a man and of a lifetime' (Maeve Binchy, Irish Times) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A well-researched and thoughtfully written biography of Richard Burton. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you ask me Richard Burton is one of the finest actors ever to grace stage or screen but he seems to have been largely forgotten about as an actor and best remebered for his private life....
Indeed what made him a must see on the screen was in part due to the off screen image but how much of that was really him..Here in this book we find out.....

Melvin Bragg wrote this only a few years after Burton sadly passed away in 1984 so memories were still fresh and rose tinted views really hadn't come into effect to much....
The book offers us the early life ,the first footsteps onto the stage,the film career,Hollywood,Liz,life after liz and sadly the aftermath of his death...
Every aspect of his life is represented well by Bragg,,i must say myself i really enjoyed the 1950's..Here you can get a taste for the theartre life back then and the fire which Burton had in him to be the best.
The main focus of the book though is the acess Bragg had to Burtons's diaries...What a rare insight we have into the world only a few of us will ever hget to live...It is wonderful,sad,funny and touching to read.

I bought this book 4 years ago and i always go back and read it once a year...I can't recommend the book enough and would love it to come out again ..perhaps with a new chapter on how Burton is remembered today... A reaprasing of his work is long overdue...
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Format: Paperback
This book is one of the best biographies i have read. The only real let down is the style of the author. Mr Bragg tends to tell the reader everything that is going to happen before it actually does. All very well giving us a taste od whats to come but there is a limit.
The true star of this work is Richard Burton himself and his writing within it. Apparently he always wanted to be an author and the journals he wrote were to form the basis of an autobiography. From his own modest work one gets the impression that he was an incrediably well educated man with a gift for languages. Also a fantastic reader polishing off many books in a very short space of time.
I was impressed with the actor i had seen on screen but knew nothing about. It left me wondering if Liz Taylor's life has ever been complete since.....
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Format: Paperback
I've read this book several times and always found Burton's own journals and notebooks more interesting than Bragg's rather plodding narrative with its cliché references to Burton as a Welsh chieftain storming down from the mountains to dazzle the English with his Celtic genius.

Burton was pretty good at being all things to all men. He combined the role of anti-establishment figure with that of a millionaire who was also a dining companion and house guest of aristocrats and high society types, the husband of the most glamorous movie star of her time, and the owner of a plane and plush homes.

His stage performances of classic plays were balanced out by money-spinning, pot-boiling action films and there was something vulgar about the way he and Elizabeth Taylor acted out their private lives on the front pages.

Despite this, his notebooks reveal an observant, intelligent and well-read man who seems to have become trapped in a web spun by Taylor. Life with her and her assorted children, dogs and hangers-on must have been hellish.

He writes lots of effusive comments about her which I suspect were put there for her to read and which are difficult to take seriously.

It is a pity that these journals have not been published as a separate volume.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A detailed and in depth look at the early part of Burton's life. The book focuses on the 50s & 60s when Burton's star was in the ascendency and in the middle section takes a lot from his own diaries ('notebooks') which give a fascinating insight into the private and public life of this amazing character. Bragg has done a great job editing and appending the autobiographical stuff and does so in an insightful and sensitive way.

I would thoroughly recommend this for anyone interested in Burton himself, or more widely in the theatre and film world of the post-war era.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a long time fan of that Welsh baritone voice and all round artistic genius of Richard Burton I found this book a compelling read. Bragg clearly wrote the book from a perspective of reverence and respect for the man and it is noteworthy that he avoided the usual temptations of the biographer to get into too much salacious detail about Burton sowing his wild oats in the early Hollywood days and the later amorous adventures when his marriage to Liz Taylor ran into trouble in the mid 70s.
Instead, the book stands as a well documented celebration of the scale of the man's talent as one of the finest British thespians of the 20th century, as well as his literary intellect and passion for the English language. Of course, Burton was a legendary hellraiser and the impact of all that high living, self indulgence and alcohol on his health (especially through the Taylor years) is well and truly laid bare, not least in Burton's own post-1969 notebooks to which Bragg was given access and which are generously quoted throughout.
Here was a bright boy from the Welsh valleys who was talent-spotted and groomed for stardom by good friends who cared about him (and he repaid them with generosity for years), blew everyone else away on the West End stage with his magnetism and charisma, made millions of dollars and spent them, married, loved and acted with a supreme Hollywood actress for 10 years, drank like a fish, smoked like a train, made some great films as well as several turkeys, was nominated for an Oscar 7 times without winning, and dined with the Duke of Windsor, Maria Callas and Robert Kennedy.
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