London: Thornton Butterworth Limited, 1939. First edition, second printing. Hardcover. This is the first edition, second printing of Churchill's last book published before the outbreak of the Second World War. This second printing was issued the same month as the first and is identical apart from notation of the second printing on the copyright page. This copy is very good minus in a fair dust jacket. The green cloth binding remains square, clean, tight, and unfaded with sharp corners and bright spine gilt. We note just a few trivial scuffs and a little soiling to extremities. The contents have a single previous owner name in pencil at the center of the front free endpaper, with the same initials in pencil at the upper right corner of the page. Both endpapers show differential toning matching the dust jacket flaps. Spotting appears confined to the pastedowns and facing endpapers, the folding map at the Epilogue and the facing verso, and the page edges.
The dust jacket is unclipped, retaining the publisher’s original price at the lower front flap. The only loss is fractional chipping at the spine head. What leads us to grade this jacket as only “fair” is significant staining to the moderately toned spine, with lesser but still significant soiling to the jacket faces. Withal, a nearly complete dust jacket identical to that of the first printing. The dust jacket is protected with a removable, archival quality clear cover.
Step By Step includes 82 newspaper articles focused on foreign affairs written by Churchill at the end of his "wilderness years" between March 1936 and May 1939. Many of them of course contain his warnings and predictions about Nazi Germany. Step By Step was published in June 1939. Only a few short months later, on September 1st 1939, Germany would invade Poland. Churchill would be invited to join the War Cabinet, reprising his First World War role as First Lord of the Admiralty. Less than a year after publication, in May 1940, Churchill would become Prime Minister.
As a measure of Churchill's prescience and ultimate vindication, upon publication, Labour leader Clement Attlee, a political opponent who would replace Churchill as Prime Minister in late July 1945, wrote to Churchill, "It must be a melancholy satisfaction to you to see how right you were." Others were even more blunt. Sir Desmond Morton, military officer, government official, and appeasement opponent, wrote to Churchill, "Many years on, historians will read this and your speeches in Arms and the Covenant. They will wonder but I doubt they will decide what devil of pride, unbelief, selfishness or sheer madness possessed the English people that they did not rise as one man" and "call on you to lead them."
Reference: Cohen A111.1.b, Woods/ICS A45(a.2), Langworth p.197. Item #004639