London: Thornton Butterworth Limited, 1929. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. This is a jacketed British first edition, first printing of the fifth and penultimate 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 deals with the postwar years 1918 to 1928. 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 scarce and the smooth navy cloth of the British first editions proved quite susceptible to wear, the contents prone to spotting and toning. Moreover, the cloth binding of this fifth volume proved particularly susceptible to blistering.
Condition of this first edition, first printing is near fine in a very good plus dust jacket. The blue cloth binding is immaculately bright, square, and tight, with sharp corners, vivid spine gilt, and only a trivial hint of wear to extremities. Blistering is nominal for the edition, with just a hint along the upper rear hinge. The contents remain bright and crisp; the book feels unread. We find no previous ownership marks. Differential toning to the endpapers corresponding to the dust jacket flaps confirms that this copy has spent life jacketed. Light spotting appears entirely confined to the page edges. The dust jacket is nearly complete, with a quite shallow strip loss at the spine head extending onto the upper front panel and fractional loss at the corners and a few points along the front flap fold. The spine is modestly toned and scuffed, the panels comparatively clean with modest toning to the edges. 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(IV).b, Woods/ICS A31(ab), Langworth p.105. Item #004667