London: Thornton Butterworth Limited, 1937. First edition, third printing. Hardcover. This is a jacketed British first edition, third and final printing of the first Abridged & Revised edition of Churchill's monumental and acclaimed history of the First World War. A quarter of a century before the Second World War endowed him with lasting fame, Winston Churchill played a uniquely critical, controversial, and varied role in the “War to end all wars”. Churchill's history - which he titled The World Crisis - was originally published in six volumes between 1923 and 1931. This important edition covering the war years 1911-1918 is not just an abridgement. It incorporates revisions by Churchill with new material, including a whole new chapter on the Battle of the Marne, as well as a new introduction.
This British first abridged edition is quite scarce in the original dust jacket. It is also among the most striking first edition dust jackets in the Churchill canon. There were three printings – in 1931, 1932, and 1937. All three printings featured the same dust jacket design, but second and third printings are typically encountered on heavier, lined tan paper with just a hint of pale green color while most first printing copies appear to have been printed on a notably brighter, thinner, vivid green paper. Both jackets are elusive, both prone to toning, as are the spines of the green cloth bindings beneath.
This first British abridged edition, third and final printing, is near-fine in the original jacket. The green cloth binding is square, tight, and exceptionally clean, retaining vivid color and bright gilt. There is trivial wear at the corners and a faint vertical spine crease that looks to be a binding artefact. The contents are crisp, clean, and bright. We find no previous ownership marks. A trivial hint of spotting appears confined to the text block fore edge. All folding maps are present and intact. The unclipped dust jacket shows only minor edgewear and no losses to the front and rear face. The spine has a .25 inch deep loss at the top and a large loss to a maximum depth of 1 inch at the bottom of the spine, infringing into the publisher's name. There is also some moisture staining to the bottom inch of the rear face and in various places on the spine. A flawed dust jacket, but one that is both striking and scarce. The dust jacket is protected with a removable, archival quality clear cover.
Of The World Crisis, Frederick Woods wrote: "The volumes contain some of Churchill's finest writing, weaving the many threads together with majestic ease, describing the massive battles in terms which fitly combine relish of the literary challenge with an awareness of the sombre tragedy of the events." Churchill was in a special position to write this history, having served both in the Cabinet and on the Front. Churchill served as First Lord of the Admiralty from 1911 until 1915, but after the failure in the Dardanelles, he was scapegoated and forced to resign. He spent his political exile as a lieutenant colonel leading a battalion in the trenches. Before the war's end, Churchill was exonerated and rejoined the Government, foreshadowing the political isolation and restoration he would experience nearly two decades later leading up to the Second World War.
Reference: Cohen A69.6.c, Woods/ICS A31(bb.3), Langworth p.113. Item #001054