London: Thornton Butterworth, Ltd., 1939. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. This is a jacketed British first edition, first printing of an important Churchill title - his last book published before the outbreak of the Second World War. This is a particularly clean, very good copy in a very good dust jacket.
The green cloth binding is clean, tight, and unfaded with bright spine gilt and only a few trivial scuffs and blemishes. We’d grade this copy as near fine if not for a very slight warp to the binding. The contents are bright and clean with no spotting. The sole previous ownership marks are a gift inscription from the year of publication “To Margaret” dated “Oct 14 1939” and Margeret’s name inked directly below, all on the front free endpaper recto.
The thin, light colored dust jackets of this edition proved quite susceptible to soiling and to toning of the spines. This dust jacket is complete apart from a neatly price-clipped lower front flap. The jacket shows light edgewear, including a few short closed tears, and some overall soiling including a small circular stain on the upper spine beside the title, but only mild spine toning. The jacket is protected beneath a clear, removable, archival cover.
Step By Step includes 82 newspaper articles focused on foreign affairs written by Churchill between March 1936 and May 1939 at the end of his "wilderness years". Many of them, of course, contain his warnings and predictions about Nazi Germany. Step By Step was published in June 1939. Only a few short months later, on the first day of September 1939, Germany invaded Poland. Churchill had spent the better part of a decade politically isolated, frequently at odds with both his party and prevailing public sentiment. Now he was invited to join the War Cabinet, reprising his First World War role as First Lord of the Admiralty.
Less than a year after Step By Step was published, in May 1940, Churchill became Prime Minister. As a measure of Churchill's prescience and ultimate vindication, when Step by Step was published Labour leader Clement Attlee, a political opponent who would replace Churchill as Prime Minister in late July 1945, wrote to Churchill, "It must be a melancholy satisfaction to you to see how right you were." Others were even more blunt. Sir Desmond Morton, military officer, government official, and appeasement opponent, wrote to Churchill, "Many years on, historians will read this and your speeches in Arms and the Covenant. They will wonder but I doubt they will decide what devil of pride, unbelief, selfishness or sheer madness possessed the English people that they did not rise as one man" and "call on you to lead them."
Reference: Cohen A111.1.a, Woods/ICS A45(a.1), Langworth p.197. Item #006184