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Steve Kemper is the author of Code Name Ginger. His work has appeared in many national publications, including Smithsonian and National Geographic. He lives in West Hartford, Connecticut.

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Clearly, a role model for the Flashman series; Frederick Russell Burnham spends his life flitting around the world doing amazing things. His very interesting life is well presented in this rather prosaic non-interesting biography. Still, a worthwhile read for the content if not the style.
 
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jamespurcell | 2 andra recensioner | Aug 4, 2018 |
A Splendid Savage is a biography of Frederick Russell Burnham. He did so much in so many places between the mid 1870s and 1910 it's almost unbelievable. It was a period of rapid change and Burnham was on the front lines of history, the spear point of colonization. If the history of the United States is a parade of rugged individuals and hardy pioneers then Burnham might be its last man because during this period the frontiers shut down, the pioneering way of life came to an end and colonial empires turned on themselves. But not before Burnham had an opportunity take take part in some of its last and greatest hurrahs. He fought against Apache Indians led by Geronimo, fought in the famous Pleasant Valley War, was a well known shooter and smuggler in Tombstone. Then he went to Africa and became famous for his daring exploits taking part in the First and Second Matabele Wars to colonize Rhodesia, and the Boer War. He took part in the Klondike Gold Rush. Along the way he came close friends with the likes of Winston Churchill, Teddy Roosevelt and Baden-Powell (and many other famous people of his day). One might suspect he was a self-promoter but Burnham was the real deal, he was a master marksman and "scout", a word that has lost meaning today but like an Eagle Scout it's someone with endless skills in the outdoors. Indeed Burnham was the inspiration for the Boy Scouts, he is called the "Father" of the scouting movement.

This biography is straightforward and I wish it provided more historical context. For example when he goes to the Klondike there is little background. One might need to visit Wikipedia to fill out some details if you're not already familiar. There's also little in the way of analysis or commentary on Burnhams life, other than a few paragraphs at the end. A really great book about Burnham could still be written (probably multi-volume) but this is a reliable and straightforward account.
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Stbalbach | 2 andra recensioner | Apr 21, 2017 |
A Labyrinth of Kingdoms by Steve Kemper

A Labyrinth of Kingdoms tells the story of Heinrich Barth, one of the great European explorers of Africa who deserves to be ranked with Livingstone and Burton for the personal risks he undertook in gathering information in what was then terra incognito. For a variety of reasons, Barth has been largely left out of the narrative of the exploration of Africa. Kemper's book makes a compelling argument for his redemption.

Barth was a German who signed up with the English government to assist in exploration of northwestern Africa. The other European members of Barth's group quickly succumb to disease and hardship on their exploration but Barth persists, spending five years and traveling around 12,000 miles throughout western and central Africa. In the process, Barth takes the time and effort to learn a number of African languages and then uses his knowledge to carefully document the land, its people, their cultures and histories - all of which are unknown to Europe at the time.

Barth becomes the third European to reach Timbuktu and stays for nine months recording life in what had heretofore been a virtually mythical city. This is especially notable because the first European to reach Timbuktu is murdered almost immediately after leaving the city and the second takes virtually no notes about the trip to the point that he was disbelieved about returning to Europe.

Barth not only makes the dangerous trips but laboriously notes and maps the places he explores providing reams of information to scholars. Unfortunately for Barth's legacy, Barth's interest are scholarly and he fails to write the adventure filled narrative that more famous explorers like Livingstone write. Instead, he produces a 3,500 page, five volume account of his travels. Furthermore, Barth's interest and care in the Africans as people runs contrary to the colonial narrative that is beginning to take hold of a dark continent populated by savages and thus justifiably subjugated by Europeans. Finally, the fact that Barth is German but working for the British government makes him less popular.

Sadly, many of the cultures and people recorded by Barth were largely wiped out by European colonization. Barth's careful depictions of sophisticated Islamic cultures with extensive histories vanished before a fuller understanding was ever obtained.

Kemper's account of Barth is well written and enjoyable. By all accounts, Barth's own writings are not. As such, Kemper has done readers a service in making the story of Barth's extraordinary travels better know to the broader public.
… (mer)
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Oberon | 5 andra recensioner | Mar 21, 2016 |
An exceptionally enjoyable book. Burnham was in danger quite literally from diapers to old age. The man ran the wilds of Arizona during the Apache wars, fought in multiple conflicts in S Africa and in between scouted across some of the most dangerous and extreme parts of the world. The author does a fine job of letting the story flow, with well placed asides that clarify as well. The setbacks and unfulfilled opportunities are something out of fiction. That Burnham kept persevering is astonishing.… (mer)
 
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Whiskey3pa | 2 andra recensioner | Feb 25, 2016 |

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Statistik

Verk
7
Medlemmar
351
Popularitet
#68,159
Betyg
4.0
Recensioner
12
ISBN
20

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