London: George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd., 1938. First Edition, only printing. Hardcover. This book is the precursor to Churchill’s great war speeches, the first edition, only printing. This particular copy is increasingly scarce thus, in the first issue dust jacket.
Condition is good plus in a good dust jacket. The navy cloth binding is square, clean and tight with only minor shelf wear to extremities. The only sunning corresponds to jacket losses at the upper and lower spine and upper and lower front face, confirming that this book and its dust jacket have always been paired. The contents retain a crisp feel and spotting is minor. Nonetheless, we do note age toning, dog-eared corners at the leaves spanning pages 433-446, and fading as well as a light moisture stain to the top edge of the text block (which does not intrude whatsoever upon the inner margins). The sole previous ownership mark is a tiny bookseller sticker affixed to the lower rear pastedown of “Thorburn & Abbott Ld. Booksellers” of “Ottawa Ont.” Thorburn and Abbott was reportedly a well-known new and antiquarian bookstore in Ottawa from 1860 to the late 1930's, implying that this book was likely sold new by them when published in 1938.
The pale blue first state dust jacket is unclipped, retaining the original lower front flap price. The only losses of note are an irregular strip at the spine head to a maximum depth of .5 inch (1.27 cm) and a 1 x .75 inch (2.54 x 1.91 cm) triangular loss at the bottom edge of the front face. The corners and spine heel also show minor chipping and short closed tears, there is some overall soiling, and the spine is toned and faintly stained. There are a few small pieces of archival tape applied to the verso of the jacket to stabilize closed tears and chips. The dust jacket is now protected beneath a removable, clear, archival cover.
Arms and the Covenant has been called "…the permanent record of one man’s unceasing struggle in the face of resentment, apathy, and complacency" and "probably the most crucial volume of speeches that he ever published." (Frederick Woods) The book contains text from 41 Churchill speeches spanning 25 October 1928 to 24 March 1938. These criticize British foreign policy and warn prophetically of the coming danger. The world remembers the resolute war leader to whom the British turned, but it is easy to forget the years leading up to the war, which Churchill spent persistent, eloquent, and largely unheeded, often at odds with both his own political party and prevailing public sentiment.
The speeches were compiled by Churchill's son, Randolph, who contributed a preface and is credited with compilation. Randolph would do the same for his father's first volume of war speeches, Into Battle, published in an almost unrecognizable world less than three years later. The “Covenant” in the title of Arms and the Covenant refers to the League of Nations Covenant, the instrument that was to maintain peace in the wake of the First World War. As testimony to the book's importance, a copy of the U.S. edition lay on "President Roosevelt's bedside table, with key passages, including an analysis of the president's peace initiative, underscored" (William Manchester's The Last Lion, Volume II, p.305). The British first edition saw only a single printing of 5,000 copies published on 24 June 1938 and of these, perhaps as few as 3,381 were issued in the distinctive pale blue dust jacket.
Reference: Cohen A107.1. Woods/ICS A44(a), Langworth p.191. Item #006255