A new volume in the Military Profile series



Victorian Hero

140 pages; 5" x 8" ; 11 B& W photos; 4 maps

$21.95   $17.56
Available: August 2008
$13.95   $11.16
Available: August 2008


Charles George Gordon was the preeminent military hero of the late-Victorian British Empire. A lifetime officer in the Royal Engineers, he served in several theaters of war and imperial contest, most notably China and the Sudan. His last assignment took him back to the dusty Sudanese capital, Khartoum, where he supervised the overmatched Anglo-Egyptian garrison’s evacuation in the face of imminent attack by Islamic extremists. He was killed there in January 1885, just two days before a British relief expedition arrived.

In this new biography of General Gordon, C. Brad Faught looks afresh at the life of one of the most famous Victorian military men. Although a later age would come to reject Gordon’s record and the values by which he lived, he has remained an enduring figure in the British Empire’s late-nineteenth-century heyday and an important means by which to examine its contemporary issues: abolitionism, territorial conquest, and the rule of dependent peoples. Faught traces Gordon’s life from his childhood in England and Corfu to his youth and training as an engineer at the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich and his subsequent military and proconsular service in the Crimea, eastern Europe, China, India, Mauritius, South Africa, and the Sudan. Throughout his varied career Gordon was guided by his staunch, conventional Christian faith—despite his critics’ best efforts to suggest otherwise—and remained devoted to the best features of imperial rule. Whether as a key opponent of the Arab slave trade or a leader of troops in battle, Gordon was usually successful in his undertakings but always controversial. This biography gives an up-to-date rendering of an important British imperial figure whose demise at the hands of a Muslim extremist is both resonant and potentially instructive for the era in which we live today.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)

C. Brad Faught is a graduate of the Universities of Oxford and Toronto and is currently an associate professor of history and chair of the division of arts at Tyndale University College in Toronto. He is the author of The Oxford Movement: A Thematic History of the Tractarians and Their Times and lives in Toronto.


"Provides excellent contextualisation. . . . Faught has demonstrated rare gifts of concise and perceptive commentary within a nicely illustrated work."
Journal of Military History, April 2009

“Faught’s book provides an excellent overview of Gordon’s career. Its mostly narrative structure is easy to follow and engagingly written, holding the attention of even the casual reader with its straightforward language and succinct coverage of events. . . . An up-to-date and thoroughly researched single-volume treatment of Gordon’s life that will provide readers with a firm base for further investigations.”
History: Review of New Books, Spring 2009

"In only just about a hundred pages the author has provided the most concise and accurate account of the life and times of our great hero."
The Bulletin of the Military Historical Society, February 2009

“Presents the man with all his modern contradictions and historical righteousness.”
Book News, Inc., November 2008

“Brad Faught is equally at home in Victorian religious history and imperial history. His present book on ‘Chinese’ Gordon is a superb and enlightening revisiting of the career of that imperial adventurer. Faught knows how to write a page-turner, yet the book is based on impeccable archival research and reading in the most up-to-date secondary works. Most important, Faught gives us a well-rounded account of Gordon’s career as military engineer and leader of irregular troops as well as religious icon, thereby rescuing him from the stereotype of mere religious fanatic. Readers of this book, whether professional historians or buffs, will be entertained and will learn much about this important Victorian public figure.”
Denis Paz, professor of history, University of North Texas

“This is an insightful and fast-moving biography of a figure of great importance to Britain’s 19th century empire. In describing Gordon’s role in the Crimean War, his contributions to the quelling of the brutal Taiping Rebellion in China, and/or his various expeditions to the Sudan that culminated in his dramatic death in Khartoum at the hand of the Mahdi in 1885, Faught does a marvelous job of depicting Gordon in all of his human contradictions—a man of war with a deep sense of religious faith, a loyal servant of the British Empire with strong ‘populist’ inclinations towards those over whom he governed, and a man of private sensibilities that achieved great public fame. This was a pleasure to read and is highly recommended.”
Paul Kingston, associate professor of political science, University of Toronto

“Confidently based on the vast Gordon archive, Faught’s work offers excellent reading and will rank as an important contribution to re-examining the switchback reputation of Britain’s one-time—in Faught’s words—‘ultimate soldier of empire.’”
Anthony Kirk-Greene, Emeritus fellow, St. Antony’s College, Oxford University