London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1933. Hardcover. This is the first printing of the bibliographically significant 1933 edition of Churchill's second book in the scarce original dust jacket. Originally published in 1899, The River War recounts Churchill's experiences and reflections concerning British involvement in the Sudan. In 1883, Mahdist forces of messianic leader Mohammed Ahmed overwhelmed the Egyptian army of British commander William Hicks and Britain ordered withdrawal from the Sudan. In 1885, General Gordon famously lost his life in a doomed defense of Khartoum, where he had been sent to lead evacuation of Egyptian forces. General Kitchener reoccupied the Sudan in 1898. With him was a very young Winston Churchill, who would participate in the battle of Omdurman in September 1898, where the Mahdist forces were decisively defeated.
Writing about the British campaign in the Sudan, Churchill - a young officer in a colonial British army - is unusually sympathetic to the Mahdist forces and critical of Imperial cynicism and cruelty. This work offers us 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. The text is arresting, insightful, powerfully descriptive, and of enduring relevance.
In 1933, a so-called "Second Cheap Edition" was made from plates of the 1902 edition with a bibliographically significant new introduction by the author explaining that "A generation has grown up which knows little of why we are in Egypt and the Sudan." There were ultimately five printings of this edition. Here is the first printing of 1933, a near-fine plus copy in a good example of the scarce dust jacket, which is unique to the 1933 first printing.
The light purple cloth binding of this edition proved highly susceptible to wear and soiling. Here the binding is square, clean, and tight, retaining uniform color, sharp corners, nicely rounded spine, and showing none of the usual scuffing. Slight wrinkling at the spine ends and perhaps a hint of darkening at the spine head corresponding with the dust jacket loss are the only trivial exterior flaws noted. The contents are crisp and bright, the book feeling unread. Differential transfer browning to the blank endpapers corresponding to the dust jacket flaps confirms that this book has spent its life jacketed. We note no internal spotting or previous ownership marks. Very light spotting is confined to the fore and top edges and the top edge also shows dust soiling.
The dust jacket is a respectable and mostly complete example. The only significant dust jacket loss is a 1.5 inch wide by maximum .375 inch strip at the spine head. The jacket spine is toned and scuffed, but both the blue and black spine print remain distinct. The jacket faces show modest wear and a few short closed tears at the edges, as well as light overall soiling, heaviest at the flap folds. The dust jacket is protected in a removable, archival quality clear cover.
Reference: Cohen A2.4.a, Woods/ICS A2(da.1), Langworth p.33. Item #002071