London: Educational Book Co., Ltd., 1955. First Illustrated Edition. Hardcover. This is the "Chartwell Edition" of Churchill's The Second World War, bound in the publisher's original "deluxe" blue quarter leather. This first illustrated Chartwell edition of The Second World War was published soon after the British first edition and is aesthetically superior in every respect. It is also the final text, "in which all those first minor errors are corrected", according to the author.
This particular edition stands the test of time as among the most aesthetically pleasing and the most pleasant to actually read. It was issued in two bindings - a red cloth and a scarcer blue quarter leather binding. This is the Deluxe binding, featuring blue pebble grain morocco leather spines and light blue cloth covers. Not only attractive, the books also have a pleasing weight and size, measuring roughly 10 x 7 inches. The boards are stout with beveled edges. The hubbed spine compartments are both blind and gilt ruled, two printed with author/title and subtitle/volume number. The contents are bound with gray marbled endpapers, head and foot bands, and dark blue topstain. The text is entirely reset from the first edition and is profusely illustrated with hundreds of illustrations on heavy, coated paper. Each volume also contains a color frontispiece and three-color maps.
This set is in good condition, sound, respectably clean, and complete, though certainly well short of fine. The leather spines of this edition proved quite susceptible to fading. This set is no exception; the spines show uniform sunning. Nonetheless, the bindings remain tight, the leather uncracked with only modest blemishes. The blue cloth boards show minor scuffs with some shelf wear to extremities and a few minor corner bumps. The contents are clean, thought mildly age-toned. We find no previous ownership marks. Light spotting appears mostly confined to prelims and page edges. The blue topstain is faded across all six volumes.
The Second World War is Churchill's history of the epic 20th Century struggle that was so indelibly stamped by his leadership. Seldom, if ever, has history endowed a statesman with both singular ability to make history, and singular ability to write it. As with so much of what Churchill wrote, The Second World War is not "history" in the strictly academic, objectivist sense, but rather Churchill's perspective on history. In his March 1948 introduction to the first volume, Churchill himself made the disclaimer, "I do not describe it as history... it is a contribution to history..." Nonetheless the compelling fact remains, as stated by Churchill himself, "I am perhaps the only man who has passed through both the two supreme cataclysms of recorded history in high Cabinet office... I was for more than five years in this second struggle with Germany the Head of His Majesty's government. I write, therefore, from a different standpoint and with more authority than was possible in my earlier books."
Certainly The Second World War may be regarded as an intensely personal and inherently biased history. Nonetheless, Churchill's work remains essential, iconic, and a vital part of the historical record. Richard Langworth calls the six-volume epic "indispensable reading for anyone who seeks a true understanding of the war that made us what we are today." The first volume of Churchill’s history was published in 1948, three years after the war ended. The sixth and final volume was published in 1954, during Churchill’s second and final premiership. Please anticipate that this large, heavy set may require additional postage depending on destination.
Reference: Cohen A240.7.a, Woods/ICS A123(d) Langworth p.269. Item #006101