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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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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 21 Aug 2013 09:18:49 BDT
Slippy says:
While not having even seen the book, never mind read it, it sounds to me that the footnotes would be very helpful. I personally thought that Churchill was a rather jovial, felt-covered nodding dog from those hilarious insurance adverts. Who knew there was a prime minister named after him?!? How incredible! A battle? In Britain?? I never saw that on the news. But thanks to this briefest snippet from the footnotes my eyes have been opened. Thank you Chris!

I can't help feeling that, while well written by someone who is obviously a true fan, Rachel's review clearly illustrates how she should get a life and stop wasting her time moaning about books on websites. I'd suggest that Rache is probably someone who reads the Daily Mail far too often and spends her mornings quietly seething at the latest immigration figures and longing for the `good old days' where chain-smoking kiddy-fiddlers roamed the sepia-coloured streets twiddling walking canes and saying things like `lovely day for a cheeky chirpy cockney* chappie Mrs Diggery' in squeeky comic accents.

Personally, I long for a book of unconnected footnotes with hardly any content at all. Now there's an idea for a best seller.

*Cockney is a small island of dwarven bald people Nor Nor East of the Isle of Dogs

Posted on 11 May 2014 00:30:30 BDT
I wasn't personally bothered by the footnotes, though some were a little obvious. However, Slippy's comments seemed a little over the top, considering he/she hadn't even read the thing.
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