Winston S. Churchill, The Official Biography, Volume VIII, Never Despair, 1945-1965. Martin Gilbert.
Winston S. Churchill, The Official Biography, Volume VIII, Never Despair, 1945-1965
Winston S. Churchill, The Official Biography, Volume VIII, Never Despair, 1945-1965
Winston S. Churchill, The Official Biography, Volume VIII, Never Despair, 1945-1965
Winston S. Churchill, The Official Biography, Volume VIII, Never Despair, 1945-1965
Winston S. Churchill, The Official Biography, Volume VIII, Never Despair, 1945-1965
Winston S. Churchill, The Official Biography, Volume VIII, Never Despair, 1945-1965
Winston S. Churchill, The Official Biography, Volume VIII, Never Despair, 1945-1965

Winston S. Churchill, The Official Biography, Volume VIII, Never Despair, 1945-1965

London: William Heinemann Ltd., 1988. First edition. Hardcover. This is Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s inscribed copy of the British first edition of the eighth and final volume of the Official Biography of Winston S. Churchill. The title page inscription, in blue ink in seven lines, reads “To Harold and Mary - | who both appear in these pages – with the author’s fond memories | and warmest regards | Martin | London | 18th July 1988”. This author’s presentation copy is the desirable uniform issue of the British first edition with red cloth binding, red topstain and a solid color dust jacket. Condition is very good, the binding tight and square, though with minor shelf wear to extremities, the contents clean and free of spotting, though the topstain is faded and the edges are a bit soiled. The blue dust jacket is bright, clean, and complete with minor wear to extremities and is protected beneath a removable, clear, archival cover. The Official Biography was begun by Winston’s son, Randolph Churchill (1911-1968), and completed by Sir Martin Gilbert (1936-2015), who joined Churchill's biography team in 1962 at the age of 25. Gilbert said: "I'd thought I'd last four or five months." Instead, when Randolph died in 1968 with only two volumes completed, Gilbert took over, committing a substantial portion of his scholarship and life's work to documenting, comprehending, and communicating what he called the "remarkable and versatile life" of Winston Churchill. British first editions of the eight main text volumes were originally published between 1966 and 1988. The events of this eighth and final volume span the period from Demobilization in late 1945, when Churchill was Leader of the Opposition, through his second premiership (1951-1955) into a time when Churchill passes "into a living national memorial" of the time he has lived and the Nation, Empire, and free world he has served. As the author notes in his inscription, Wilson appears in this volume, in numerous instances spanning pages 163 to 1362. In a letter to Mary upon her husband’s death, Gilbert recalled that he first met then-Prime Minister Wilson in February 1970 when “he came to see my Oxford study”. They maintained a correspondence and Wilson attended Gilbert’s second wedding in 1974. Prime Minister Harold James Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx (1916-1995) was the last British prime minister of Winston Churchill’s lifetime and in many ways his antithesis. Born to a lower middleclass family, Wilson had an early academic career at Oxford. “Academically, his results put him among prime ministers in the category of Peel, Gladstone, Asquith, and no one else”. (ODNB) Keen intellectual facility was circumscribed by “a deep-rooted provincialism”, a sweep of mind that “was narrow and unadventurous”, and a perception that “even within his chosen subjects he lacked originality”. The war years brought Wilson both a wife and a political life. He married his “schoolboy sweetheart”, Gladys Mary Baldwin (1916-2018), a poet who hoped “she might live a quiet life among ‘the dreaming spires’” and “did not like politics.” Nonetheless, she soon “found that the pull of public service was irresistible for her husband.” Wilson was first elected to Parliament in the July 1945 Labour general election landslide that cost Churchill his wartime premiership. Wilson became Labour Party leader in 1963 at the age of forty-six. The 1964 General Election – the first since 1895 in which Churchill did not stand for Parliament – saw Labour eke a narrow majority and Wilson ascend to 10 Downing Street. Wilson remained atop Disraeli’s “greasy pole” for eleven and a half years, twice prime minister, with an intervening three years and eight months as Leader of the Opposition. Wilson’s leadership was marked by considerable social change and economic and industrial crises. On 5 April 1976, twenty-one years to the day after Churchill resigned his second and final premiership, Wilson retired voluntarily. In the same year he became both a Knight of the Garter and a life peer. Item #005703

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