The pioneering traveler in Central Africa who discovered Lake Tanganyika was also the translator of The Arabian Nights and the secret translator of Oriental sex manuals, like The Perfumed Garden. The man who made a dangerous pilgrimage to Mecca in disguise also produced major writings on reptiles and religion, mining and mountain-climbing, slavery and sexuality.
Byron Farwell brilliantly recreates the sheer excitement of Burton's achievements and his astonishing range of interests in this fascinating biography.
©1963 Byron Farwell; (P)1995 Blackstone Audio Inc.
This is a good overall view of Burton's life, but it does show its age in some parts (i.e. had to look up Midian) because country names and places have changed in the last four decades.
The book's first half is excellent as Burton led an exciting, adventuring life. But the second half drags quite a bit as Burton slows down and the book becomes more or less a listing of his published works and a year-by-year account of his wanderings.
That being said, it is an enjoyable listen and a good peak into the workings of colonialism and Victorian England.
Real Life Adventure
This biography is brimming with detail and historical background, and all of this contributes to the sense of participating in Burton's explorations. Simon Vance does a wonderful job as the narrator, reading with intelligence and verve.
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