London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1898. First edition. Hardcover. This attractive, well-preserved, ex-library copy of the British first edition features compelling provenance. The front pastedown features a decorative “Ex Libris” bookplate handwritten “FROM: Col: F.W. Blood 1941". The facing front free endpaper recto is inked in five lines: "Presented by / Col. F.W. Blood / To commemorate his 60 years' / Connection with the Cheshire Regiment / Oct. 1941". We believe "F.W." to be Frederick William and know that a Col. F.W. "Fred" Blood was a relation of Sir Bindon Blood - to whom Churchill dedicated this book and whose portrait appears at the frontispiece. We found record of 1934 correspondence from Sir Bindon Blood to another family member referring to Col. F.W. Blood as working on updating the family pedigree. Both Sir Bindon and Col. F.W. Blood were then living "at Birkenhead". Chester - home of the library from whence this copy came - is proximate to Birkenhead.
Although ex-library, this book is in superior overall condition. The rebinding was executed in an apple green cloth that faithfully echoes the original and the gilt spine title and author stamping are done in the same style as the original binding, including the gilt double rules that bracket the title. The page edges were trimmed and ink-speckled in red when the book was rebound.
Condition is very good. The apple green cloth binding is square, clean, and tight with light wear confined to spine ends and corners and one tiny abrasion at the upper rear hinge. The sole exterior ex-library mark is a five-digit library number inked in black on the lower spine. The contents are bright and clean. The rear-catalogue has not been retained, but all maps and plans, as well as the frontispiece and errata slip, remain present and fully intact. Spotting is light, with only trivial, intermittent scattering within. Within the text ex-library marks are modest: a small sticker hand-numbered “333” above Col. Blood’s bookplate on the front pastedown; a "Withdrawn for sale" stamp on the blank title page verso date stamped "21 April 1961"; a small circular "Chester Public Library" stamp at the upper right corner of page 1; a 4 x 2.5 inch sticker bearing a printed number pasted to the lower rear pastedown. What may have been a previous owner name but is no longer readable has been removed from the upper half-title.
The Story of the Malakand Field Force recounts Churchill’s experiences while attached to Sir Bindon Blood's punitive expedition on the Northwest Frontier of India in 1897. This book was written and published while Churchill was a young cavalry officer still serving in India. He had successfully applied his pen as a war correspondent - indeed the book is based on his dispatches to the Daily Telegraph and the Pioneer Mail – but this was his first book-length work. Churchill was motivated by a combination of pique and ambition. He was vexed that his Daily Telegraph columns were to be published unsigned. On 25 October 1897 Churchill wrote to his mother: "...I had written them with the design... of bringing my personality before the electorate." Two weeks later, his resolve to write a book firming, Churchill again wrote to his mother: "...It is a great undertaking but if carried out will yield substantial results in every way, financially, politically, and even, though do I care a damn, militarily." Having invested his ambition in his first book, he clearly labored over it: "I have discovered a great power of application which I did not think I possessed. For two months I have worked not less than five hours a day."
Churchill sent the finished manuscript to his mother on the last day of 1897. It was published on 14 March of 1898. Publication was arranged by Churchill's uncle while the author was still in India, resulting in numerous spelling and detail errors that incensed Churchill, who acted with haste to address them. Hence later states of the first edition bear errata slips.
Reference: Cohen A1.1.b, Woods/ICS A1(aa), Langworth p.12. Item #006413