The River War, An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan. Winston S. Churchill.
The River War, An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan
The River War, An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan
The River War, An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan
The River War, An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan
The River War, An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan
The River War, An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan
The River War, An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan

The River War, An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan

London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1900. First edition, third and final printing. Hardcover. The River War is Churchill's second published book, the largest and lengthiest work of his early, perilous, and distinguished career as a soldier and war correspondent. This first edition, third and final printing of The River War is not only the scarcest issue of the first edition, but also the last unabridged issue to this day. All three printings of the first edition (2,646 copies total) are virtually identical, issued respectively in November 1899, February 1900, and June 1900. Only 151 third printing copies were bound. This particular set is good plus, unrestored in the distinctive original publisher’s bindings. The illustrated navy cloth is scuffed with wear to hinges and extremities. Nonetheless, shelf presentation is quite respectable, the color and gilt uniform in appearance, both between the covers and spines and between the two volumes. Both bindings remain unusually firm for the edition. We collated both volumes with care, confirming the presence of all 57 illustrations, associated tissue guards, and all 34 maps and plans. The original black endpapers are likewise intact, with no sign of the typical cracking at the gutters. We also confirm presence of the publisher’s 32-page catalogue at the end of Volume I. The contents show moderate intermittent spotting, heaviest at the Vol. I half title. The sole previous ownership mark is the same ink stamp of “K. G. Hobbs” on the recto of the blank leaf preceding the Vol. II half title and on the Vol. I half title recto. Published in two massive volumes in 1899, the first edition of this book is compelling in every respect. First, of course, is the inherent merit of the work itself. The text is arresting, insightful, powerfully descriptive, and of enduring relevance. Mohammed Ahmed was a messianic Islamic leader in central and northern Sudan in the final decades of the 19th century. In 1883 the Mahdists overwhelmed the Egyptian army of British commander William Hicks, and Great Britain ordered the withdrawal of all Egyptian troops and officials from the Sudan. In 1885, General Gordon famously lost his life in a doomed defense of the capitol, Khartoum, where he had been sent to lead evacuation of Egyptian forces. Though the Mahdi died in 1895, his theocracy continued until 1898, when General Kitchener reoccupied the Sudan. With Kitchener was a very young Winston Churchill, who participated in the decisive defeat of the Mahdist forces at the Battle of Omdurman in September 1898. In this book about the British campaign in the Sudan, Churchill - a young officer in a colonial British army - is unusually sympathetic to the Mahdist forces and critical of Imperial cynicism and cruelty. This work offers the candid perspective of the future great man of the 20th century from the distinctly 19th century battlefields where Churchill learned to write and earned his early fame. We see a chief architect of the Second World War involved in what has been called the last "genuine" cavalry charge of the British army. The first edition is not only a compelling piece of writing, but also beautiful and bibliographically important. The large, lavish, weighty volumes are strikingly decorated with gilt representations of the Mahdi’s tomb on the spines and a gunboat on the front covers. Each volume is printed on heavy paper with a profusion of illustrations, maps, and plans. They are also increasingly scarce, particularly in the publisher’s original bindings, which often separated under the significant weight of the text blocks. This is one of the few Churchill books for which there was no concurrent U.S. first edition. Bibliographic reference; Cohen A2.1.d, Woods/ICS A2(a.3), Langworth p.29. Item #005797

Price: $2,400.00

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