London: Thornton Butterworth Limited, 1927. First edition. Hardcover. This is a jacketed British first edition, first printing of the third 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”. The events of the 1916-1918 volumes, of which this is Part I, include Churchill's time at the Front following his political exile and his subsequent return to the Cabinet. Though the U.S. first edition of The World Crisis 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. Particularly scarce in one piece are the 1916-1918 first printing dust jackets, which were printed on highly acidic paper highly prone to loss, toning, and splitting at hinges and flap folds.
Condition of this first edition, first printing, 1916-1918 Part I copy is very good plus in a good-to-fair dust jacket. The blue cloth binding is square and tight with sharp corners and vivid spine gilt. We note just a little incidental scuffing. The contents remain respectably bright with a crisp, unread feel. Differential toning to the endpapers corresponding to the dust jacket flaps confirms that this copy has spent life jacketed. Previous ownership marks appear confined to an inked name on the upper front pastedown and a small Birmingham bookseller sticker affixed to the lower rear pastedown. Spotting appears primarily confined to the prelims and page edges. The dust jacket suffers an irregular loss at the spine head to a maximum depth of 2.25 inches (5.7 cm), obscuring a significant part of the title, as well as fractional chipping elsewhere to the extremities. Nonetheless, the jacket remains in one piece, with no detachment at the hinges or flap folds as is commonly the case. The dust jacket is now protected beneath 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(III-1).a, Woods/ICS A31(ab), Langworth p.105. Item #004660