The City of the Saints: Among the Mormons and Across the Rocky Mountains to California

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Narrative Press, 2003 - History - 512 pages
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Sir Richard Francis Burton, born in 1821, was perhaps the most colorful British explorer of the 19th century. A tall man, with broad shoulders, a large head, and a drooping black mustache, he was a swordsman, a drinker, a brawler, and a practical joker. As a young intelligence officer in India, he stunted his military career with a report on homosexual brothers in Karachi, but he learned at least nine languages (not including the 60 words of monkey he picked up from his pet troop), and he developed a habit of wearing disguises to go where white men were not welcome -- in Mecca he posed as a Pathan born of Afghan parents in India. One of his best-known, but most unhappy explorations was with John Speke to find the source of the Nile. n 1860 Burton left England and his fiance to explore the American West and visit the Mormons. His descriptions of the land and people are better than photographs. The Sioux are tall men, straight, and well-made: they are never deformed, and are rarely crippled, simply because none but the able-bodied can live. The shoulders are high and somewhat straight; the figure, is the reverse of the sailor's, that is to say, whilst the arms are smooth, feeble, and etiolated, the legs are tolerably muscular...The feet being more used than the other extremities, and unconfined by boot or shoe, are somewhat splay, spreading out immediately behind the toes, whilst the heel is remarkably narrow. They tread, like the anteater, more heavily on the outer than on the inner edge.

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About the author (2003)

Sir Richard Burton, the explorer, adventurer, translator, and student of Eastern sexual customs, was born in Torquay, England. He received an irregular education, which included an expulsion from Oxford University. In 1842 Burton joined the East India Company and went to India, where he learned the Persian, Hindustani, Afghan, and Arabic languages. Burton was the first European to reach Harar, the religious capital of Somaliland. He was the discoverer of Lake Tanganyika and explored in the Congo, the Cameroons, Dahomey, and Brazil. He was a pioneer ethnologist and anthropologist. Burton was a linguist of dazzling ability, speaking 29 languages and 11 dialects. He wrote 43 books on his travels and 2 volumes of poetry. In addition to translating the Arabian Nights, he translated) 6 volumes of Portuguese literature, 2 volumes of Latin poetry, and 4 volumes of Neapolitan, African, and Hindu folklore. Following a trip to the United States in 1860, Burton published an account of the Mormon settlement in Utah titled City of the Saints (1861). His wife, Isabel Arundel, frequently traveled with him on such journeys. After Burton died in Trieste in 1890, she burned many of his journals, as well as the manuscript of an uncompleted work called The Scented Garden Men's Hearts to Gladden.

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