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 compelling, both volume and jacket approaching near fine. The blue cloth binding remains square, tight, and clean, with bright spine gilt, sharp corners, and only the slightest shelf wear to extremities and trivial wrinkling to the spine ends. The dark blue cloth color is excellently preserved, befitting a jacketed copy. The contents are noteworthy for the absence of both previous ownership marks and any of the spotting endemic to the edition. The contents retain a crisp feel, mild age-toning readily apparent only on the otherwise clean fore and bottom edges. The blue-stained top edge retains dark color, though a bit dust-dulled. We note the slightest suggestion of a faint stain at the upper fore edges, as if from light and fleeting moisture exposure, but the stain is truly light and does not intrude on any inner margins. There is customary transfer browning to the half title from the pastedown glue.
The pale blue first issue dust jacket is beautifully bright, unclipped, and substantially complete with only two truly tiny losses – a miniscule chip at the upper front hinge and an even smaller hole along the upper rear hinge. Shelf presentation is excellent. Overall soiling is light, though we do note minor spotting to the bottom half of the spine, light soiling at the lower front face and flap folds, and a little staining, including two faintly pinkish stains to the upper half of the rear face. Despite these minor deficiencies, this is a very well-preserved jacket, increasingly scarce thus. The jacket is preserved beneath a clear, removable, 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 (less delicately titled While England Slept) 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 #006393