London: Cassell and Company, Ltd., 1948. First edition, first printing. Leather bound. This is a finely bound, full six-volume set of British first editions of The Second World War, Winston Churchill's history of the epic 20th Century struggle that was so indelibly stamped by his leadership.
The bindings are three-quarter navy blue morocco goatskin over marbled paper-covered boards and feature raised spine bands framed with blind rules, lion rampant device in unprinted spine compartments, generous leather corners, and double blind rule transitions, blue and white silk head and tail bands, fine paper end sheets, and gilt top edges.
Condition of the bindings is truly fine – square and tight with no appreciable signs of handling, toning, or wear of any kind. A pleasingly stiff feel indicates that they have been unread since the re-binding. The contents are quite clean for the edition and well-suited to the fine binding. We find no previous ownership marks. A trivial hint of spotting appears confined to a few fore and bottom edges. The top edge gilt is uniformly bright with only a few trivial scuffs.
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."
Given the fragility of the first editions - which were not only printed on post-war "Economy Standards" paper, but also bound in coarse, black cloth bindings that easily wear and mildew - this fine binding is a durable and aesthetically appealing alternative.
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 #006337