The River War. Winston S. Churchill.
The River War
The River War
The River War
The River War
The River War

The River War

London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1902. Hardcover. This is a superior copy of the first one-volume edition of Churchill's second book. The River War was originally published as a two-volume edition in 1899. In 1902 Churchill (by then a new member of Parliament) revised and abridged his text, excising much of the criticism of Kitchener for political reasons. There is also a new Preface. Every one of the many subsequent editions of The River War is based on this 1902 text. This first one-volume edition had only a single printing of just 1,003 copies and so is considerably scarcer than the first edition. This edition has the same distinctive gilt decoration of the Mahdi's Tomb and gunboat as the first edition, but is bound in red cloth. This copy is elusive thus, in better than very good plus condition. The red cloth binding is unusually square, clean, bright, and tight with sharp corners and bright gilt. Shelf presentation is quite good for the edition; uniform toning of the spine is less than usual, the only appreciable wear some wrinkling to the spine ends. The contents are even better – notably crisp and bright. A barely discernible hint of spotting is confined to the otherwise clean top edge of the text block. The sole previous ownership mark is a bookplate affixed to the front pastedown. The upper right corners of the leaves spanning pages 155-60 were not fully trimmed at the bindery, resulting in trivial creasing to these upper corners. The final signature at the last page of the Index remains uncut. Two interesting features distinguish this original, unrestored copy. First is the presence of original white endpapers, instead of the typical black. Second is lack of the publisher's catalogue; Cohen (Vol. I, A2.2, p.46) notes "Most copies will have a catalogue designated '10,000/7/02'." Cohen also notes that "Sales were gradual" and "by 1 June 1908... 407 copies remained on hand" of which 350 were as-yet unbound sheets. Moreover, among the copies we have examined the publisher's red cloth varies quite considerably in hue, from a deep red to distinctly lighter shades. In our experience, darker cloth has always corresponded to black endpapers and a bound-in publisher's catalogue. This copy - the publisher's original binding featuring medium red cloth, white endpapers, and no publisher's catalogue - seems almost certainly among the later copies bound and sold by the publisher. Mohammed Ahmed was a messianic Islamic leader in central and northern Sudan in the final decades of the 19th century. In 1883 the Mahdists overwhelmed the Egyptian army of British commander William Hicks, and Great Britain ordered the withdrawal of all Egyptian troops and officials from the Sudan. In 1885, General Gordon famously lost his life in a doomed defense of the capitol, Khartoum, where he had been sent to lead the evacuation of Egyptian forces. Though the Mahdi died in 1895, his theocracy continued until 1898, when General Kitchener reoccupied the Sudan. With Kitchener was a very young Winston Churchill, who would participate in the battle of Omdurman in September 1898, at which the Mahdist forces were decisively defeated. In this book about the British campaign in the Sudan, Churchill was unusually sympathetic to the Mahdist forces and critical of Imperial cynicism and cruelty. The text is arresting, insightful, powerfully descriptive, and of enduring relevance. This work offers the candid perspective of the future great man of the 20th century from the distinctly 19th century battlefields where Churchill learned to write and earned his early fame. We see a chief architect of the Second World War involved in what has been called the last "genuine" cavalry charge of the British army. Because it was significantly revised and because all subsequent editions to date are based on this text, this 1902 first abridged and revised edition is as important and desirable as any in the Churchill canon. Bibliographic reference: Cohen A2.2, Woods/ICS A2(b), Langworth p.30. Item #005678

Price: $1,650.00

See all items by