London: Thornton Butterworth Limited, 1927. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. This is a jacketed British first edition, first printing of the fourth volume of Churchill's monumental 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”. The events of these 1916-1918 volumes, of which this is Part II, include Churchill's time at the Front following his political exile and his subsequent return to the Cabinet.
hough the U.S. first edition of The World Crisis preceded the British, many consider the British edition aesthetically superior, with its larger volumes and shoulder notes summarizing the subject of each page. Unfortunately, the original dust jackets are quite scarce and the smooth navy cloth of the British first editions proved quite susceptible to wear, the contents prone to spotting and toning. Particularly scarce in one piece are the 1916-1918 first printing dust jackets, which were printed on highly acidic paper highly prone to loss, toning, and splitting at hinges and flap folds.
Condition of this first edition, first printing, 1916-1918 Part II copy is near fine first printing of 1916-1918, Part II in the correct, first printing dust jacket. The blue cloth binding remains unusually clean and free of scuffing, befitting a jacketed copy, with sharp corners, bright spine gilt, and only trivial wear to corners and spine ends. We note a slight inward warp to the front cover. The contents remain crisp and bright with no previous ownership marks. The volume feels unread. Spotting is modest for the edition, primarily confined to the first and final leaves and the page edges.
The first printing dust jacket shows shallow chipping to a maximum depth of .375 inch at the spine ends and edges. Shelf presentation is quite respectable, with an evenly-toned but otherwise clean dust jacket spine. A clean split all along the front hinge nearly disappears beneath the removable, archival quality clear dust jacket protector, as do partial splits at the flap folds. The dust jacket is protected beneath removable, archival quality clear cover.
Published between 1923 and 1931, The World Crisis spans the 1911-1918 war years, with two supplemental volumes covering the postwar years 1918-1928 (The Aftermath) and the Eastern theatre (The Eastern Front). 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. Despite Churchill's political recovery, the stigma of the Dardanelles would linger. Churchill may have meant for his history of the First World War to clear his name, but his six-volume masterwork far exceeds this purpose.
Reference: Cohen A69.2(III-2).a, Woods/ICS A31(ab), Langworth p.105. Item #003250