London: Thornton Butterworth, Ltd., 1930. First edition, 8th printing. Hardcover. This is a jacketed copy of the British first edition, first printing, eighth and final printing of the first volume of the Churchill's monumental history of the First World War, in which he played such a critical, controversial, and varied role. This volume covers the first four years Churchill spent as First Lord of the Admiralty, as well as the beginning of the war. Many consider the British edition aesthetically superior to the U.S., with its larger volumes and shoulder notes summarizing the subject of each page. Unfortunately, the smooth navy cloth of the British first editions proved quite susceptible to wear and dulling, the contents prone to spotting and toning. Truly bright and clean bindings are seldom seen without the original dust jackets, and the dust jackets are exceptionally scarce.
There were eight printings (between 1923 and 1930) of the first edition of this first 1911-1914 volume. This jacketed 1930 eighth and final printing of closely conforms to the appearance of the 1923 first printing. The dust jacket print is the same on the spine, front panel, and front flap, with substantive differences only to the rear panel, which adds advertisements for the subsequent volumes in the series, and the rear flap, which adds “Press Notices”. The binding is identical to that of the first printing with the sole exception of the addition of a single, five-pointed gilt star on the spine, denoting that this is the first volume. Given the similar shelf appearance of both jacket and binding, this copy offers the prospect of filling a jacketed first edition set at a far more modest cost than a first printing.
Condition is near fine plus in a dust jacket that approaches near fine. The blue cloth binding is square, tight, immaculately clean, and strikingly bright, with sharp corners, perfectly rounded spine, vivid spine gilt, and no appreciable wear. The contents remain crisp and bright; the volume feels unread. A trivial hint of spotting appears confined to the otherwise clean page edges. A single previous owner name is neatly inked to the upper front free endpaper. The front free endpaper and facing front pastedown also show small rust stains consonant with two small paperclips that may have been laid in at one point.
The dust jacket is complete apart from fractional chipping at the spine head. The panels and flap folds remain bright. The jacket spine shows moderate, uniform toning and a few faint stains, but nonetheless provides quite good shelf appearance. The jacket is protected 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. First Lord of the Admiralty from 1911 until 1915, after the failure in the Dardanelles and the slaughter at Gallipoli, Churchill was scapegoated and forced to resign. He spent part of his political exile as a lieutenant colonel leading a battalion in the trenches. Before war's end, Churchill was exonerated and rejoined the Government, but the stigma 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(I).j, Woods/ICS A31(ab), Langworth p.105. Item #004393