London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1919. First edition. Hardcover. This is the memoir of Admiral Sir John Arbuthnot Fisher (1841-1920), the first edition in dust jacket. A legendary figure, Fisher would ultimately become most famous for his association with Winston Churchill during the disastrous Dardanelles campaign of the First World War. Fisher joined the navy in 1854 when British warships still carried sails. During his first stint as First Sea Lord (1904-1910), he presided over transformation of the British Navy. But he also cemented a reputation for volatility and vindictiveness.
In 1914 when Churchill again made him First Sea Lord, Fisher was in his mid 70s, retired, and a member of the peerage. Churchill, only 39, had been First Lord of the Admiralty since 1911. The dominating event of their partnership would be the British assault on the Dardanelles. In 1915, with Fisher's support and endorsement, Churchill conceived a strategy to defeat Turkey. Fisher himself "suggested a substantial naval and military assault against Turkey, including a naval attack at the Dardanelles and a military landing at Gallipoli peninsula". (Martin Gilbert)
The plan was enthusiastically backed by the Prime Minister's War Council. Unfortunately, the Admiral in command called off the attack as soon as several ships expectedly hit mines. Churchill's exhortations to press on were ignored. Worse still, Fisher turned on the enterprise, raging dishonestly that he had opposed the enterprise "all along". Fisher's Cabinet tantrums forced the recall of some ships. Then, after being placated at the cost of the campaign, Fisher abruptly resigned and deserted his post, refusing even direct appeal from the Prime Minister to return. The subsequent military attack failed - partly due to the naval failure. Gallipoli claimed more than 60,000 soldiers.
By resigning, Fisher likely aimed to distance himself from a military endeavor he had both supported and doomed, and to politically cripple Churchill. For a time, he succeeded. Churchill would assume blame for the Dardanelles and resign from the Admiralty in 1915, after which he served as a lieutenant colonel leading a battalion in the trenches. By the war's end, Churchill was exonerated by the Dardanelles Commission and rejoined the Government. History would confirm that the naval force came close to penetrating the Dardanelles minefields and that the Turkish shore batteries were short of ammunition. But these facts did Churchill no good at the time and the stigma of the Dardanelles would linger. Here is Fisher's story, published a year before his death. "The Dardanelles" consumes pages 49-90, of course with frequent discussion of Churchill.
The first edition is not especially scarce in average, unjacketed condition, but is quite scarce thus - near-fine in a very good dust jacket. The red cloth binding is pristine - square and clean with sharp corners, bright gilt, nicely rounded spine, and virtually no wear. The contents are bright and tight. The book is unread, with the signatures throughout remaining uncut. Transfer browning to the endpapers corresponding to the dust jacket flaps testifies that this copy has spent its life jacketed. The flaw preventing this from being an extraordinary fine copy is spotting, primarily confined to the endpapers and page ends, but lightly intermittent throughout. The only indication of previous ownership is two small "Duplicate Hoover Institute" ink stamps on the ffep.
The scarce dust jacket is in a plum color quite susceptible to sunning. Nonetheless, the spine shows only a hint of color shift and the color remains strong, with no color shift between the dust jacket flaps and dust jacket faces. Apart from fractional wear to the corners, the only losses are at the spine - chipping to a maximum depth of 3/8 inch at the head and a 1/4 inch circular loss taking most of the "D" in "Lord Fisher". The dust jacket is protected in a removable, archival quality clear cover.
Reference: Zoller B30. Item #001507