Meet Richard Francis Burton, 19th-century explorer, ambassador and tough guy. He may have missed the Age of Exploration that "discovered" the Americas and circumnavigated the globe, but this brainy Brit wrote over 30 travel books in his lifetime about Asia, Africa and South America -- and that before Gore-Tex, GPS and Humvees.
Burton's interest in travel was piqued as a young soldier in the East India Company, when he arrived too late to fight but was kept on anyway and discovered his love of studying the cultures around him. He later completed a pilgrimage to Mecca while disguised as a Muslim, discovered the inland Lake Tanganyika on an expedition into the interior of East Africa (when it was still considered a No Man's Land) and translated the Kama Sutra in his spare time. (Because of the latter interest and stuffy Victorian morals, Burton never rose above consul in his government career; we're sure Cosmo thanks him for it.)
Unfortunately, Burton has been mostly forgotten (could it have been the actor of the same name?) and his books have slowly gone out of print. But if you're wishing for some insight into the Muslim soul of a hundred and fifty years ago, try Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al Madinah and Mecca and marvel at the man who had the cojones to pull that -- and many other adventures -- off.
·Jaunted Recommended Travel Books [Jaunted]