London: Thornton Butterworth Ltd., 1938. First revised and expanded edition. Hardcover. This book comes from the personal collection of Churchill's bibliographer, Ronald I. Cohen. This is the British first revised and expanded edition, first printing, in dust jacket. Originally published in 1937, Great Contemporaries is Churchill's much-praised collection of insightful essays about 21 leading personalities of the day - including the likes of Lawrence, Shaw, and, most famously, Hitler. Churchill's piece about Hitler can be a shock to the modern ear, as it underscores his ability to write a balanced appraisal of his subject while expressing his earnest desire to avoid the war that he would fight with such ferocious resolve only a few years later.
There is a reason this book is still in print today. It was written with what has been called "penetrating evaluation, humor, and understanding." Churchill's balanced and nuanced perspectives are a good model for many of today's more polemic writers. And naturally, in the course of sketching the character of his contemporaries Churchill necessarily reveals some of his own character and perspective. This first revised edition, published in 1938 soon after the first edition of 1937, added four new essays (Fisher, Parnell, Baden-Powell, and - of great interest - Roosevelt). While some of the people about whom Churchill wrote have receded into history, many remain well-known and all remain compellingly drawn. This is as fascinating a read today as when first published.
As is the case with the first edition, first printing, the dust jacket for the 1938 revised edition is quite scarce. This British first revised edition, first printing, is a very good plus copy in dust jacket. The blue cloth binding is tight, bright, and clean apart from a touch of sunning to the lower spine where a closed tear previously exposed part of the spine. The contents remain notably bright and clean. Differential toning to the endpapers corresponds to the dust jacket flaps and confirms what the superior binding already tells us - that this copy has spent its life jacketed. We find no previous ownership marks. Spotting is confined to the dust-soiled top edge, while the fore and bottom edges remain bright and clean. The dust jacket is unclipped, but considerably worn, with a large triangular loss at the spine head to a maximum depth of 1.5 inch and other minor chipping to extremities, as well as wrinkling to the upper front face and a 1.5 inch closed tear at the lower rear hinge. Nonetheless, a rare and desirable dust jacket, priced in accordance with its faults. The dust jacket is protected in a removable, archival quality clear cover.
Reference: Cohen A105.3.a, Woods/ICS A43(b.1), Langworth p.182. Very good plus / Fair. Item #002907