London: Thornton Butterworth Limited, 1927. First edition, seventh printing. Hardcover. This is a jacketed British first edition, seventh printing of the first 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”. This volume covers the first four years Churchill spent as First Lord of the Admiralty, as well as the beginning of the war. Though the U.S. first edition 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.
This copy is very good in a very good dust jacket. This first edition, seventh printing was published in December 1927. Of note, the dust jacket spine, front panel, and front flap are identical to that of the first printing. The rear panel contains advertisements for the 1915 and 1916-1918 volumes, while the rear flap has 'Press Notices' for The World Crisis. The blue cloth binding is bright and clean with vivid spine gilt. We note light wear to extremities and a slight forward lean. The contents remain respectably bright with no previous ownership marks. Differential toning of the endpapers corresponds to the dust jacket flaps, confirming that this copy has spent life jacketed. Modest spotting is primarily confined to the prelims and page edges. The dust jacket has quite decent shelf presence, with shallow chipping at the spine head, fractional loss to the corners and lower spine hinges, and mild spine toning. The dust jacket is protected in a 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(I).i, Woods/ICS A31(ab), Langworth p.105. Item #004658