London: George G. Harrap & Co., Ltd., 1938. First edition, only printing. Fine binding. This is the precursor to Churchill's great war speeches, the first edition, only printing. This finely bound copy is handsomely executed in three-quarter navy morocco, evocative of the publisher's original dark blue cloth, over marbled paper-covered boards. The binding features generous corners, double blind-rule transitions, and a hubbed spine with blind rules framing the raised bands and gilt lions rampant in the unprinted compartments. The contents are bound with head and foot bands, fine stock endsheets, and gilt top edge.
Condition of this copy is fine. The binding is flawless, without soiling fading, or wear. The contents are suited to the fine binding, notably clean with none of the spotting endemic to the edition and no previous ownership marks. We note only modest age-toning to the otherwise clean fore and bottom edges.
Arms and the Covenant contains text from 41 Churchill speeches criticizing British foreign policy, spanning 25 October 1928 to 24 March 1938. This collection has been called "…the permanent record of one man’s unceasing struggle in the face of resentment, apathy, and complacency”. The speeches were compiled by Churchill's son, Randolph, who contributed a preface and is credited with compilation. Randolph would do the same for his father's first volume of war speeches, Into Battle, published in an almost unrecognizable world less than three years later. At the time, on the eve of the Second World War, the British edition was given the politically palatable title Arms and the Covenant. The U.S. title – While England Slept - is a bit more candid.
The world remembers the resolute war leader to whom the British entrusted their fate, but it is easy to forget the years leading up to the war, which Churchill spent persistent, eloquent, and largely unheeded. Churchill bibliographer Frederick Woods called this edition "probably the most crucial volume of speeches that he ever published". As testimony to the book's importance, a copy of While England Slept lay on "President Roosevelt's bedside table, with key passages, including an analysis of the president's peace initiative, underscored." (William Manchester, The Last Lion, Volume II, p.305) 5,000 copies of this first and only British impression were printed.
Reference: Cohen A107.1, Woods/ICS A44(a), Langworth p.192. Item #004923