London: Thornton Butterworth Limited, 1937. 1st Edition. 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 very good in the original jacket. The green cloth binding is square and clean, retaining bright spine gilt and showing only very light sunning to the spine apart from the bottom edge of the spine which has a small sunned strip, and a spot of sunning along the center front hinge corresponding to a dust jacket loss. The rear cover shows some small abrasions to the cloth along a 4 inch section near the fore edge (which correspond with dust jacket damage, further testifying that the book and jacket have sojourned together). The contents are clean and bright with no spotting. The sole previous owner mark is a small bookseller sticker on the front pastedown. All maps and plans present and intact.
The unclipped dust jacket would be a notably complete example if not for a .75 x .5 inch triangular loss at the center right of the spine. The rear face shows some small holes along a 4 inch section adjacent to the flap fold and corresponding with the surface damage to the rear cover of the book. A flawed dust jacket, but one that is both important and scarce. The dust jacket is protected beneath 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 #001141