GORDON OF KHARTOUM: The Saga of a Victorian Hero by John H. Waller

GORDON OF KHARTOUM: The Saga of a Victorian Hero

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A rousing biography of one of the great soldiers of Victorian England--Charles Gordon, known affectionately by his people as Chinese Gordon or Gordon Pasha--by Waller, contributing editor of Military History. Many Americans have a fleeting memory of Gordon derived from the dramatic 60's film Khartoum, which starred Charleton Heston and concentrated on Gordon's latter years in the Sudan, where he came to his tragic end at the hands of the Mahdi's forces (only two days before he was to be relieved of his 317-day holding of the city). But Waller fills in the rest of Gordon's story, in the process giving us both a glorious and sad testament to an imperialism that knew no bounds. Wallet's chronicle is a veritable kaleidoscope of the heyday of British overseas adventurism, spanning Gordon's part in the siege of Sevastopol during the Crimean War (where his talents first surfaced), his ruling over Chinese forces to put down the bloody Taiping Rebellion (which, in carnage, was second only to WW II, accounting for over 30 million dead), the slave trade of Equatorial Africa, and Gordon's final bloody defense of Khartoum. Gordon's childhood journal has only recently been discovered, and Waller makes ample use of it, as well as of previously unpublished letters, to capture the spirit of Gordon and some of the tensions that ran through his short (at his death, he was only 52) life. For example, Gordon, inwardly a devout Christian, could without blinking an eye pull a soldier out from the ranks and order him executed on the spot in order to make an example for the remainder of his forces. Readers who enjoy such full-scale biographies as The Last Lion or American Caesar should be captivated by this definitive bio of a type long-since rendered obsolete. Many photographs, maps, and line drawings (unseen) round out this saga.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1988
Publisher: Atheneum