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

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 worn but complete in the distinctive original publisher’s bindings, suited either to shelve as it is or to a fine rebinding. The illustrated navy cloth is significantly scuffed with shelf wear and minor bumps to extremities, the gilt dulled, and a repair to the spine cloth between the “VOL. I” and the Mahdi’s tomb. Despite these detractions, shelf appearance is presentable, with the cloth color and gilt uniform in appearance between the covers and spines and between the two volumes. Both bindings show typical damage associated with the massive weight of the text blocks. The Volume II binding is still attached and unrepaired, though with splits at both endpapers exposing the mull and the final free endpaper loose. The Volume I front gutter has been reinforced with fabric tape at both the pastedown gutter and the following half-title gutter. The rear pastedown gutter is fully separated, the binding loose from the text block. This is reparable at the discretion of the next owner. The contents distinguish this set. 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 present, as is the publisher’s 32-page catalogue at the end of Volume I. We find no previous ownership marks in the set. Spotting is comparatively modest, significant only on the blank frontispiece versos and primarily confined to prelims, with only light, intermittent intrusions in the main text. 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 British-commanded Egyptian army and Britain ordered withdrawal. In 1885, General Gordon famously lost his life in a doomed defense of the capitol, Khartoum, where he had been sent to lead evacuation. 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. The first edition is not only a compelling piece of writing, but also beautiful and bibliographically important. The lavish, weighty volumes are strikingly decorated with gilt representations of the Mahdi’s tomb on the spines and a gunboat on the front covers. The contents are printed on heavy paper with a profusion of illustrations, maps, and plans. They are also increasingly scarce, particularly in the publisher’s original bindings. 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 #005812

Price: $1,000.00

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