Explorer and inventor, soldier and poet, archaeologist and diplomat, Richard Francis Burton (1821-90) was the most versatile and remarkable man of his age. But he was foremost an adventurer: "an adventurer in the intellectual and the spiritual as well as the physical world".
The pioneering traveler in Central Africa who was the first European to see Lake Tanganyika was also the translator of The Arabian Nights and the secret translator of Eastern 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.
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A balanced view of Burton
- Eric Berger
Excellent in every way
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.