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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book by a great actor
Knowing little of Richard Burton, I bought this book solely on the strength of the excellent reviews it got in the press. I absolutely loved it: it is very well-written, interesting, insightful, warm-hearted, and self-deprecating. RB was an extraordinarily good writer, articulate, able to capture an atmosphere or an idea in a couple of words.

The book is a...
Published on 25 Dec. 2012 by Gwen N

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating, if sometimes tedious, character study of a man in decline.
The Richard Burton Diaries are a fascinating, sometimes delightful, often tedious trawl through Burton's life as - and when - he could be bothered to keep up with his notes. Burton has a great literary voice and the early parts of the diaries (the 60's - 70's) are easily the most accessible as we follow Burton and Taylor through 'The Taming of the Shrew' and their...
Published 18 months ago by Ian Armer


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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book by a great actor, 25 Dec. 2012
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Knowing little of Richard Burton, I bought this book solely on the strength of the excellent reviews it got in the press. I absolutely loved it: it is very well-written, interesting, insightful, warm-hearted, and self-deprecating. RB was an extraordinarily good writer, articulate, able to capture an atmosphere or an idea in a couple of words.

The book is a real page-turner as it describes the admittedly unusual and interesting lives lived by RB and Elizabeth Taylor (whom RB palpably adores and who is described very movingly). That being said, the main draw of the book is the insight it provides into the mind of a well-read, complex, gifted and deeply sympathetic man. I am very glad that I bought this book more or less by chance and grateful for having discovered the greatness of RB - both as a writer and an actor.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough including to anyone who would not normally read the diaries of a "celebrity". Yes, there are chronological gaps as RB appears to stop writing when life becomes too difficult and his opinions and actions are sometimes contradictory (working-class pride vs the glamorous lifestyle etc), but in the end, this is a gem of a book that easily stands on its own merits.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A joy ... but skip the teen entries, 1 Feb. 2013
By 
Friend of Dorothy (Hampshire, England) - See all my reviews
My advice is to skip the first section of these diaries, which cover about 12 months in 1939 and 1940 when Burton was 14 or 15. They can be summed up as "went to school, had a fight, came home, did my homework".

Then the action skips to the 1960s and the quality of the entries, as you'd expect, improves dramatically. Burton had a real flair for writing and many of his entries are engrossing. Anyone who remembers the Burton-Taylor media circus of the 60s and 70s will appreciate the inside-out perspective on familiar events, such as his buying of the world's biggest diamond for Taylor. Surprisingly, Burton manages to make this and other similar extravagances seem almost rational; his reasoning seems to be "she expects it and I can afford it, so what's the problem?"

There's a lot in the diaries about Burton's voracious reading, and everyone who knew him well remembers this as a defining characteristic. If he's to be believed, he could read several books (certainly novels) in a day if he put his mind to it. However, his restless and eclectic consumption of books reminded me strongly of a passage at the start of Sir Walter Scott's novel Waverley. Here are some edited extracts:

"A surfeit of idle reading had ... rendered our hero unfit for serious and sober study... [giving] him that wavering and unsettled habit of mind which is most averse to study and riveted attention...Nothing perhaps increases by indulgence more than a desultory habit of reading."

Burton was a much more intelligent and forceful character than the fictional Waverley, but I'm convinced there's a similarity. In one telling entry, Burton expresses surprise that Taylor could recall a lot more about a book they'd both recently read than he could. The truth is probably that he'd skimmed through it half-cut while she'd read it properly while sober.

Burton frequently mentions his desire to write something longer than a magazine article, and discusses a few ideas. However, there's no evidence he ever did. The problem was, other people's books (and of course booze) kept getting in the way. That's a shame, because on the evidence of the diaries he could have written something worth reading. They're a joy, and every entry evokes the rhythm and timbre of his magnificent voice.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rare insight into an icons life, 23 May 2014
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I have been captivated by this book that starts early into Richard Burton's life. It is set out across a number of decades and there are gaps where he stops writing. However he was disciplined enough to write this diary which evolved much more later in life into a reflective account of what was goings in his life. Many other icons names grace the pages. Burton describe the life that he led and his challenges with his and Elizabeth Taylor's drinking habits.......I was fascinated and have about a 100 pages to go. I was also pleased to be able to download this book on kindle onto my iPad
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richard Burton diaries, 10 Feb. 2014
By 
Mrs. A. J. SEED (uk) - See all my reviews
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This is definitely worth a read if you are a fan of a great actor with a colourful fascinating life. He is so interested in everything that goes on and that comes across. He is an avid reader and would have made such a fanastic scholar if only he had gone down that path. He gave most of his money away which says a fair bit about the man. The interesting thing is many pages of his diary talk about what he had to eat - loved his food!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Completely brilliant except for ..., 14 Aug. 2013
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This review is from: The Richard Burton Diaries (Paperback)
I've always been fascinated by Richard Burton and his relationship with Elizabeth Taylor and having read many books about them both, including Melvyn Bragg's excellent 'Rich', this was a book I was definitely going to be reading. And it really is superb. Burton has such a wonderful command of the English language - thanks not just to his very obvious natural talent, but also because of the vast amount of books he read, the knowledge he absorbed and of course, the roles he played.

In places, it's almost poetic in its beauty and rhythm - he really is an incredible writer and best of all, you can almost hear him rolling that captivating voice around each and every word. The bonus of all this is of course, is that it makes the brilliant insights and revelations and even the ordinary day-to-day events, all the more enjoyable. It's the best autobiography I've ever read.

What an absolute shame then that the book is horribly spoiled by Chris Williams' patronising and often completely pointless references that constantly have your eyes flickering away from that sparkling text for no good reason at all. Fair enough if they're telling you something unique and interesting or they add to what's been written, but if it's to inform me that Churchill was an English prime minister or that Columbus was an explorer; that Lincoln was an American president and that the Battle of Britain was an aerial conflict between England and Germany, then you need to seriously re-think your career. They're just downright insulting.

The worst offender of them all has to be on page 293 where Burton jokes about making his chauffeur drive an Austin Princess. Williams feels compelled to write, "A more modest (though still-well appointed) motor vehicle." WHAT?? Are you kidding me?? `Well-appointed ... motor vehicle...' - how pompous can you get? Do you really think we don't know that and even if we didn't, like the man whose book you've seen fit to litter with all this condescending drivel, we'd go and look it up wouldn't we? I can't be the only one who thinks that a man as well read and as intelligent as Burton, who didn't suffer fools, stupidity or ignorance gladly, would have been incensed at the sheer absurdity and irrelevance of it all.

Granted, there are one or two interesting notes. My favourite is on page 103, note 64. The problem is they're pretty rare and all too often leave you none the wiser. Or worse, simply repeat what Burton has already captured so brilliantly in those few short decades, which is something that you, Mr Williams, couldn't hope to do in a million
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating, if sometimes tedious, character study of a man in decline., 25 Sept. 2013
By 
Ian Armer (Lancashire, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Richard Burton Diaries (Paperback)
The Richard Burton Diaries are a fascinating, sometimes delightful, often tedious trawl through Burton's life as - and when - he could be bothered to keep up with his notes. Burton has a great literary voice and the early parts of the diaries (the 60's - 70's) are easily the most accessible as we follow Burton and Taylor through 'The Taming of the Shrew' and their luxurious, extravagant lifestyle. They are obviously very much in love and it doesn't take a genius to realise that, had they not suffered a few very personal setbacks and laid off the booze, they could have stayed very happy together. In fact, Burton's diaries only spring to life when ET is on the scene. Once divorced, they become drab, meaningless, almost painful to read. Some entries simply read 'Booze' and his callous, almost dismissive nature of his partners (including Susan Hunt) is sickening. They mean nothing to him. In fact, after reading the diaries, you come to the conclusion that Burton had nothing in his life really worth a damn. He hated acting, despised most people, loved words, was catty and critical of everybody around him and lacking some sort of focus...that he had with Taylor. After they had self-combusted they were both beyond hope of repair and the latter part of the diaries are a catalogue of misery, boozing, self-loathing and general pessimism.

The diaries are also, it has to be said, a bit of a slog. There are pages - and I mean pages - of sheer banality and dull as ditch-water descriptions of dinner parties, people and general tedium. Burton's insights are not always worth a read, it has to be said. Luckily, there are enough bright moments of genuine hilarity and warmth to keep the interest, but as a character study of a man (from his own lips) it is an obvious physical and mental decline of a great actor to a shambling wreck. As a Burton admirer, it's rather painful to say that, but the unending grey misery of huge swathes of his life as depicted in the diaries make one eager for the last page and a breath of fresh air.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A revealing diary from Burton's later life., 10 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: The Richard Burton Diaries (Paperback)
The main disappointment was that the diary did not cover Burton's early film career in the U.S.A. Most of the entries occur when he was married to Elizabeth Taylor. Rather than concentrate on what he had for breakfast each day he reveals the books that he was currently reading. One entry indicates that he managed to read four books in one day which made me feel quite envious. His comments on his fellow performers pulled few punches. He did not like Lawrence Olivier and tells us why.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK FOR YOUR KINDLE!!, 29 April 2013
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Vivien Parkin - See all my reviews
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The content is really excellent but you cannot use the hundreds of references on your kindle and there are no pictures. I will definitely be buying this book when it is out in paperback as it is interesting and at times very moving.
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read, 25 Oct. 2012
By 
S. Murray (Bath, UK) - See all my reviews
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Not only was Richard Burton's life varied and interesting -he wrote about it all beautifully. Clearly he missed his true vocation in life and sadly, he knew it. Acting for him was a means to an end but there seemed to be little real fulfilment for him. It's when he sits down to write that he is most content - that and his voracious reading habit kept him sane in a whirlwind life of travel, yachts, hotels and all the shallow people he met along the way in the movie world of make-believe.
Despite the many gaps in the diary - sometimes unexplained - it is an enjoyable book which leaves a feeling of a life not only tragically cut short but of a life unfulfilled.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable reading, 15 Jan. 2013
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Mrs. C. A. Henson "Darling Henry" (Hertfordshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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I was riveted by this and could hardly put it down. What a very interesting man and how much he adored Elzabeth almost until the last. Highly recommended.
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The Richard Burton Diaries
The Richard Burton Diaries by Chris Williams (Paperback - 23 May 2013)
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