Sir Richard Burton crammed a huge amount of activity into his life conducting exploration in Africa, Asia and South America in addition to fulfilling diplomatic roles, writing literally dozens of books and translating many oriental texts, the best known of which is the 'Thousand and one nights.' He was an extraordinary linguist with knowledge of many languages and dialects. It is difficult then to fit all this activity into a single biography. Having said that, though, this near contemporary biography is still very basic and gives little detail about how he travelled and the conditions he met with. What it does do is make you want to read a more recent, better researched biography which would put this controversial figure more into the context of his times and offer a more modern evaluation of what he achieved. Update I've since read and enjoyed 'The Highly Civilized Man, Richard Burton and the Victorian World' by Dane Kennedy which gives an excellent, more up to date account of Burton's life.
At last I've found a book to tell a different side to one of England greatest adventurers, obviously, not an easy man to know, or possibly to like, but I think an honest man with vision in a time when too many people had clouded ideas about the world they lived in. Perhaps he wasn't the greatest writer of his time, but when one realises the amount of so called literature published then and compare it with the things in the media we are are offered nowadays you can only come to the conclusion, like me that he wasnt that bad, a good read well written.
Twenty six languages now that is impressive. Sir Richard ( knighthood very late coming ) led a life that most people would die for. A mixture of adventure and really dangerous travel. Hence the spear scar in face resulting from an almost fatal attack. The book brought real detail to the life of one of Britons greatest hero's. A bigger than life character. Superb really enjoyed.
What used to be called a rollicking yarn - should be made into a tv series but no-one would believe it! To have had half of his experiences would have been a full life (but he does exaggerate -pointed out by the author). Fascinating read, an original adventure story.