Burnham: King of Scouts

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Trafford Publishing, 2003 - Biography & Autobiography - 584 pages

Frederick Russell Burnham (1861-1947), an American from California, taught scouting to Robert Baden-Powell, inspiring B-P to eventually found the Boy Scouts. Burnham went to Africa in 1893 to scout for Cecil Rhodes on the Cape-to-Cairo Railway. He was a scout in the Matabele War when that engine of death - the Maxim gun - was introduced. Burnham gained fame when he survived the British equivalent of Custer's Last Stand.

During a rebellion three years later, he shot the oracle believed to be the instigator. That act expanded his fame. During this conflict, Burnham took a British Army officer, Colonel Baden-Powell, into the African hills and taught him scouting. Baden-Powell's very life was changed, and forever after that he promoted scouting at every opportunity.

Burnham found gold in the Klondike, but he was called back to Africa to serve as chief of scouts for Field Marshal Lord Roberts in the Boer War. In Johannesburg, he was reunited with Baden-Powell, who had become famous for his defense of Mafeking. Burnham and Baden-Powell began forty years of spirited correspondence in which Burnham provided the ideas and Baden-Powell - in his own words - "sucked" Burnham's brains.

Evacuated to London for a war injury, Burnham was acclaimed as King of Scouts. Queen Victoria invited he and his wife to dine with her at her beloved Osborn House. Burnham went on to explore what is now Ghana and to introduce agriculture to Kenya. Later he joined John Hays Hammond to develop agriculture in the Yaqui River Delta of Sonora.

When the Wright Brothers' invention became a viable tool of war, Burnham abandoned horse scouting. He became an oil scout and his zeal led him to discover oil at Dominguez Mesa south of Los Angeles.

Long an associate of Teddy Roosevelt, Burnham took up the environmental cause with great zeal. The closing chapters describe his activities on behalf of the Save the Redwoods League, the California State Parks Commission, and a campaign to set aside two million acres for the protection of the Bighorn Sheep of Arizona.

This true story is told as a biographical novel.

For more information about the book visit the author's website at www.BurnhamKingofScouts.com.

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Extremely disappointed in the book.
Poorly written. Unfocused
The author spends a tremendous amount of time disusing Bade- Powell's failings. Which is odd in a book about Burnham.
He uses innuendo again and again to discredit both Burnham and Baden-Powell, if there was suddenly so much new research material available (from Yale in 2000) why isn't there more insight.
I would suggest not wasting your time, go to Burnham's book "Scouting on Two Continents" for a better read, more history and a better story.
Ralph Oborn

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