New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1963. Second U.S. edition. Hardcover. This is a full, jacketed set of the second American edition (technically the second American issue) of Winston Churchill’s history of the First World War, notable for provenance, having belonged to Britain’s Imperial War Museum (IWM).
The World Crisis was originally published in six volumes between 1923 and 1931. Like the first edition, this second American edition was published in six volumes, but decades later in 1963-1964. The text is unabridged, being offprinted from the first edition, but with smaller page margins resulting in more compact bindings. Each dust jacket bears a different half-tone photograph from the war years. Unfortunately, this edition did not generally seem to hold up well. The blue cloth bindings seem especially prone to wear and the white/light blue/red dust jackets proved particularly susceptible to wear, soiling, and sunning. Moreover, many surviving sets are ex-library.
This jacketed set features very good plus to near fine volumes in very good dust jackets. Moreover, in this case signs of previous ownership are compelling. The blue cloth bindings are uniformly square, tight, and clean with sharp corners and bright gilt print. Minor shelf wear is primarily confined to extremities. The contents of all six volumes are bright and clean with a crisp, unread feel. We find no spotting. Each volume bears an illustrated bookplate affixed to the front pastedown stating “This item is the property of the Trustees of the IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM” and that it is part of a collection “created by Robert L. Silver of New York” with “subsequent additions… made in his memory by both family and friends.” Each title page features the circular ink stamp of the Imperial War Museum and each text block’s bottom edge is ink-stamped “IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM”. Shelf presentation is respectable for the edition, all six dust jackets reasonably bright and substantially complete with varying degrees of light soiling and sunning. All red spine titles remain legible, though variously sunned. The jackets show varying degrees of modest scuffing and each have neatly price-clipped upper front flaps. The jackets are protected beneath removable, clear, archival covers.
Founded in 1917, the Imperial War Museum’s five locations include the Churchill War Rooms, “The underground nerve centre where Winston Churchill and his inner circle directed the Second World War.” Like Churchill himself, the IWM was fundamentally influenced and informed by the First World War, even though it is, like Churchill, perhaps best known for its Second World War presence.
Churchill was in a special position to write the history of the First World War, which nearly cost him both his political and corporeal lives. First Lord of the Admiralty from 1911 until 1915, after the Dardanelles disaster, Churchill was scapegoated and forced to resign. He spent political exile as a lieutenant colonel of a battalion in the trenches. Before 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 lingered. Hence Churchill had more than just literary and financial compulsion to write his history. The first four volumes span the war years, 1911-1918. The fifth volume deals with the postwar years 1918 to 1928. The sixth and final volume deals in greater detail with “the course of events in the Eastern theatre”. Please anticipate that this six-volume set may require additional postage.
Reference: Cohen A69.16, Woods/ICS A31(ae), Langworth p.110. Item #006083