The Greenwood Encyclopedia of International Relations - Vol. 2

By Cathal J. Nolan | Go to book overview
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Suggested Readings:
Archie Brown, The Gorbachev Factor (1996); Don Oberdorfer, From the Cold War to a New Era (1998); D. Spring, ed., The Impact of Gorbachev (1991).
Gorchakov, Alexander (1798–1883). Russian statesman. Ambassador to Austria during the Crimean War; foreign minister, 1856–1882; chancellor, 1863–1882. Other than Bismarck, he had no rival for influence among the Great Powers. He kept Austria from entering the Franco-Prussian War and, by working with Bismarck, freed Russia from the constraints imposed by the Treaty of Paris (1856). He took Russia into the Dreikaiserbund, but toward the end of his career he grew bitterly jealous of the power of Germany and prestige of Bismarck. He was ineffectual at, and after, the Congress of Berlin.
Gordon, Charles (1833–1885). “Chinese Gordon.” Gordon served as a young British officer in the Crimean War, but made his reputation in China during the Second Opium War, including the capture of Beijing. There, he led the Chinese mercenary forces of the “Ever-Victorious Army” against the Taiping Rebellion, which earned him his nickname in the Western press. He next served in various British imperial posts, including Egypt and Sudan from 1873. A “muscular Christian,” he was deeply committed to repression of the slave trade. He was also a feckless filibusterer. Both qualities helped inspire Sudanese opposition to his unauthorized crusading. He first tried to counter the Mahdi revolt in 1877. After initial success, his personal restlessness reemerged and he left for posts in India, then China, Mauritius, Cape Colony, Palestine, and finally the Belgian Congo. In 1884 he was called back to Sudan to fight the Mahdi. He departed from London without any money, which was symbolic of his utter lack of preparation or planning. This time, he underestimated the Mahdi’s forces and determination. Disobeying his instructions, he became trapped by a 10-month siege of Khartoum. He had fortified the city, which made it a target of Mahdi opposition and committed the Gladstone government against its wishes to defense of the Sudan. At the end of the siege Gordon and his garrison were killed. His death—highly romanticized by imperial propagandists—brought down the government. Gladstone had ordered the army out of Sudan, even in face of an aroused public that wanted vengeance and reprisal—Queen Victoria herself rebuked Gladstone for “allowing” Gordon’s death. For decades, Gordon’s life was celebrated in Britain as a model of duty, imperial service, moral rectitude, and personal heroism. See also Horatio Herbert Kitchener; Omdurman, Battle of.

Suggested Reading:

Lytton Strachey, Eminent Victorians (1918).

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