London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1951. Hardcover. This is the final printing of the bibliographically important 1933 edition of Churchill's second published book, an unusually clean near fine copy in a very good plus dust jacket. The mustard-yellow cloth binding is square, tight, and clean with sharp corners, bright spine gilt, and only trivial shelf wear to the bottom edges. The contents are clean and free of spotting and the only previous ownership mark is a small London bookshop’s sticker affixed to the lower front free endpaper recto. The text block edges show mild, uniform soiling and negligible soiling. This fifth impression dust jacket features yellow faces and spine, front cover illustrations, and print in red and dark blue. Unique to the fifth impression is the rear face advertisement for "A History of Europe". This example is complete, with no loss. Moreover, there is no appreciable spine toning, the red spine print still distinct. Moderate soiling and light wear to extremities are the only faults. Interestingly, a small bookseller's "30/ - Net" sticker is placed over the original "21S. NET" price. Bibliographer Ronald Cohen notes that copies of the fifth printing "were bound and sold gradually". (Vol. I, A2.4.e, p56) The sticker and price exactly matches several we have seen on other examples of this printing. The jacket is protected beneath a removable, clear, archival cover.
Originally published in 1899, The River War recounts Churchill's experiences and reflections concerning British involvement in the Sudan. In 1883, Mahdist forces of messianic leader Mohammed Ahmed overwhelmed the Egyptian army of British commander William Hicks and Britain ordered withdrawal from the Sudan. In 1885, General Gordon famously lost his life in a doomed defense of Khartoum, where he had been sent to lead evacuation of Egyptian forces. General Kitchener reoccupied the Sudan in 1898. With him was a very young Winston Churchill, who participated in “the last great British cavalry charge” during the battle of Omdurman in September 1898, where the Mahdist forces were decisively defeated.
Writing 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 us 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 text is arresting, insightful, powerfully descriptive, and of enduring relevance. In 1933, a so-called "Second Cheap Edition" was made from plates of the 1902 edition with a bibliographically significant new introduction by the author explaining that "A generation has grown up which knows little of why we are in Egypt and the Sudan." There were ultimately five printings of this edition with at least seven different dust jackets issued (at least two for the 1933 second printing and two for this final, 1951 printing). This fifth printing in the 1951 issue dust jacket was the last issue of this edition in Churchill's lifetime, issued during his second and final premiership. The 1951 dust jacket features the same front face illustration and spine as the 1949 dust jacket, but with an entirely different rear face and some differences to the front flap.
Reference: Cohen A2.4.e, Woods/ICS A2(da.5), Langworth p.33. Item #006095