London: Thornton Butterworth, Ltd., 1931. First abridged and revised edition. Hardcover. This is a jacketed British first edition, first 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 a ribbed, tan paper with just a hint of pale green color while most first printing copies appear to have been printed on a notably brighter vivid green paper. Unfortunately, the first printing dust jacket paper was exceptionally thin and also proved highly susceptible to fading. Nearly all surviving examples suffer losses and are completely faded to tan. Moreover, the volume itself was bound in a striking green that proved almost equally susceptible to toning of the spine to a brownish color, as well as dulling of the spine gilt.
This jacketed first printing of the first Abridged & Revised edition is flawed, but nonetheless a scarce survivor. Condition is good plus in a good minus dust jacket. The green cloth binding remains square and tight and shows only minor wear to extremities. The spine is lightly sunned, consonant with the sunning to the jacket spine, but nonetheless remains notably brighter than is typical of unjacketed copies. The contents remain respectably bright and clean with no previous ownership marks. A hint of soiling is confined to the lightly dust soiled top edge.
The dust jacket is unequivocally a first printing example, retaining the distinctive vivid green color on the faces and flaps, with the spine sunned to tan. The jacket is substantially complete, with edge wear and chipping to a maximum depth of .5 inch at the spine head and a 1.5 inch closed tear and some associated wrinkling at the front hinge center. The chief flaw of this dust jacket is also what probably ensured its survival – lamination that was imperfectly applied, with the top and bottom edges of the dust jacket protruding slightly past the laminate coating. We have now further protected the jacket by placing it 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.a, Woods/ICS A31(bb.1), Langworth p.113. Item #003981