London: Thornton Butterworth, Ltd., 1923. First edition, fourth printing. Hardcover. This is a jacketed British first edition, fourth 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”. In this volume Churchill provides his perspective on the disastrous Dardanelles offensive. This fourth printing of December 1923, was published less than two months after the first printing. Of note to collectors, the dust jacket for this fourth printing is identical to that of the first printing, as is the blue cloth binding
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.
Condition of this copy is very good in a very good dust jacket. The blue cloth binding is beautifully clean, bright, and tight with vivid spine gilt and only minor corner bumps and light wear to extremities. The contents show no previous ownership marks and differential toning to the endpapers corresponds to the dust jacket flaps, confirming that this copy has spent life jacketed. Spotting is primarily confined to the first (through p.17) and final leaves and page edges, with occasional intrusions into the blank inner margins of the text. The dust jacket shows minor loss at the spine ends to a maximum depth of .375 inch at the head, moderate toning and scuffing to the spine, and a two inch ink squiggle on the rear panel. 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(II).d, Woods/ICS A31(ab), Langworth p.105. Item #004753