South Bend, Indiana: St. Augustine's Press, 2020. Hardcover. The long-awaited and much-anticipated St. Augustine’s Press edition of The River War is the first publication of Winston Churchill’s full, unabridged text since the 1899 first edition. The trade issue is a two-volume hardcover edition in dust jackets. The striking dust jackets feature a full-color drawing of a Dervish spearman by Angus McNeill (Volume I) and a photograph of Churchill in his Sudan uniform, which he signed on the day of the Battle of Omdurman (Volume II). Churchill Book Collector is pleased to offer this edition by arrangement with the publisher.
Churchill’s second published book – The River War – presents a singular and strange case in the vast canon of Churchill’s published books.
Originally published in 1899, it swiftly saw a new edition in 1902. But that edition was considerably abridged and revised by the author, the text significantly reduced by one-third. While corrections were made, the chief spur to abridgement was indicated in the author’s own Preface: “What has been jettisoned consists mainly of personal impressions and opinions, often controversial in character…” Churchill had been elected to Parliament in 1900, and, among other things, the legitimate but impolitic criticisms of imperial cynicism and cruelty made in the first edition were a liability.
Churchill’s considerations were understandable. Puzzling is the fact that every single edition of The River War since – and there have been many – has been based on the 1902 abridged and revised text. That means that anyone wanting to read the full text has been obliged to subject a scarce, expensive, and precious first edition to the rigors of casual reading.
This edition has been the work of decades under the editorship of Professor James W. Muller. Merely being the first unabridged edition in 120 years would justify some excitement. But this is far more than just an unabridged edition. Included in the edition are the following:
· Churchill’s original, unedited dispatches from the Sudan
· Churchill’s additional, later writing about the Sudan and its leaders
· Unpublished illustrations from a notebook kept during the campaign by the original artist of Churchill’s book, his fellow officer Angus McNeill
· A facsimile of Churchill’s original, handwritten draft of his chapter on the fate of Gordon – the only known chapter draft preserved in his hand
· Professor Muller’s extensive, insightful, and helpfully contextualizing Introduction
· Profuse and informative annotations footnoted throughout the work, identifying Churchill’s references to people, places, writings, and events unfamiliar to today’s readers.
· A new foreword, written specifically for this edition by Churchill’s youngest daughter, Mary Soames, before her death
Moreover, the entire text of The River War is printed in two colors, distinguishing between what Churchill originally wrote and how it was later abridged or altered. Item #006257