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A staccato, limited, romanticized biography of the remarkable Victorian Age explorer, Sir Richard Burton. Restless, complex, gypsy featured, English, Burton went to India as a young Army officer, and became one of the earliest authorities on Indian Flora, auns Haleties, culture and sexual habits. His reports shocked staid England, and the Army discharged him. Later, disguised as a Moslem pilgram, he was one of the first Christians to enter the sanctuaries of Medina and Mecca, in peril of his life. He wrote many books. He led an expedition up the Nile, discovering Lake Tanganyika. As an able Orientalist and a mystic, he was much admired by Eastern peoples; but his fierce, proud, unconventional ways cost him recognition in his own country. The chief subject of this book however, is his marriage to Isabel Arundell. Catholic, strongwilled, fanatic in her love for Richard and the East, Isabel obtained for him the remote consular posts that supported them past middle age, and very possibly, aided in taming his spirit and destroying him. Eventually she won for him the coveted post in Damascus, where they had two years of happiness. But again his very excellences got him into trouble; he was discharged and transferred to a minor post in Trieste, where he finally diet. Too much of this fascinating and complex story is told here through invented dialogues, and many of the facts and psychological puzzles are omitted. Though this makes interesting reading (nothing about Burton could be dull), and though it will lead many to read about him who might not otherwise seek out serious biographies (even of these there are few). It falls short of doing full justice to the subject.

Pub Date: March 26th, 1962
Publisher: Bobbs-Merrill