London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1898. First edition, only printing. Hardcover. This is the first edition, only printing of Churchill's first book, based on his exploits with Sir Bindon Blood's expedition on the Northwest Frontier of India in 1897. Condition is very good, a quite respectable, original, unrestored copy. The publisher’s green cloth binding remains tight and square with sound corners and no appreciable color shift between the covers and spine. We note light wear to hinges and extremities, and modest soiling, mostly to the spine, though with a small ink stain at the lower front hinge and a smaller ink mark at the front hinge two inches from the bottom. The contents are clean apart from typical intermittent spotting throughout. We find no previous ownership marks. All maps are intact, including the folding maps at pages 1 and 146, as is the frontispiece and tissue guard. The original black endpapers are present, notably without any sign of the usual splits at the gutters.
When this book was written and published, Churchill was a young cavalry officer still serving in India. While he had successfully applied his pen as a war correspondent - indeed the book is based on his dispatches to the Daily Telegraph and the Pioneer Mail - this was his first book-length work. The young Churchill was motivated by a combination of pique and ambition. He was vexed that his Daily Telegraph columns were to be published unsigned. On 25 October 1897 Churchill wrote to his mother: "...I had written them with the design... of bringing my personality before the electorate." Two weeks later, his resolve to write a book firming, Churchill again wrote to his mother: "...It is a great undertaking but if carried out will yield substantial results in every way, financially, politically, and even, though do I care a damn, militarily."
Having invested his ambition in this first book, he clearly labored over it: "I have discovered a great power of application which I did not think I possessed. For two months I have worked not less than five hours a day." The finished manuscript was sent to his mother on the last day of 1897 and published on 14 March of 1898. Publication was arranged by Churchill's uncle while the author was still in India, resulting in numerous spelling and detail errors. Churchill was incensed by the errors and acted with haste to address them. Hence later states of the first edition bear errata slips. Home Issue copies also bear a 32-page Longmans, Green catalogue bound in at the back, which is dated either "12/97" or "3/98" at the foot of page 32. Second state of the first edition, only printing is confirmed by an errata slip tipped in at p.1 (preceding the folding map) and a publisher’s rear catalogue dated “3/98”. With only a little more than 1,900 copies bound, this first edition of Churchill's first book is both desirable and elusive.
Reference: Cohen A1.1.b, Woods/ICS A1(aa), Langworth p.12. Item #004560