Books: In a Terrible Country

CHINESE GORDON: THE STORY OF A HERO (256 pp.)—Lawrence and Elisabeth Hanson—Funk & Waqnalls ($4).

When General Charles George Gordon was speared to death at Khartoum in 1885, Queen Victoria "had difficulty in speaking." "How shall I ... express what I feel? . . . grief inexpressible!" she wrote the hero's sister. "Indeed, it has made me ill! My heart bleeds. . ." At the time—and for decades afterwards—Poet Arthur Rimbaud's brusquer comment, "Gordon est un idiot," represented the opinion of none but Poet Arthur Rimbaud.

Today, even in Britain few people could say precisely who Gordon was, what he was doing in...

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