London: Cassell and Company, Ltd., 1948. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. This is a superior six-volume jacketed set of British first editions of The Second World War, Churchill's history of the epic 20th Century struggle that was so indelibly stamped by his leadership. Jacketed British first edition sets in marginal condition are not uncommon. However, the coarse cloth bindings of this edition proved susceptible to soiling and mildew, the contents (printed on post-war "Economy Standards" paper) proved highly prone to spotting, the red-stained top edges are most often severely faded, and the dust jackets proved exceptionally vulnerable to pronounced spine toning.
This set is impressive, suffering few of the typical deficiencies, comprised of near fine or better first edition, first printing volumes in near fine or better dust jackets. Sets in such condition have become quite elusive. The black cloth bindings are uniformly square, clean, and tight with sharp corners, bright spine gilt, and no appreciable wear. The contents are likewise exceptional – uncommonly bright and clean. Quite unusually, the red topstain retains dark, nearly unfaded color across all six volumes. Rather remarkably, we find neither spotting nor previous ownership marks in any volume. We can report only mild soiling to the Volume I, III, and V fore and bottom edges.
The dust jackets are strikingly bright for the edition with no appreciable toning of the spines and bright, distinctly legible red subtitles on all six spines. Shelf presentation is outstanding. All six jackets are unclipped, retaining their original front flap prices. Trivial hints of wear to a few extremities - arguably no worse than these jackets might have suffered being shelved in the bookshop where they were first sold – are confined to extremities. The sole aesthetic defects are unobtrusive dark smudges on the Volume I jacket spine just below the author’s name and on the right side of the Volume VI spine extending a few inches below the author’s name. The dust jackets are protected beneath removable, clear, archival covers.
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." Please note that this set may require additional postage depending on destination.
Reference: Cohen A240.4(I-VI).a, Woods/ICS A123(ba), Langworth p.264. Item #006259