London: Thornton Butterworth Limited, 1939. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. This is a jacketed first edition, first printing of an important Churchill title - his last book published before the outbreak of the Second World War. This British first edition, first printing is an unusually bright and clean collector-worthy copy, near fine in a very good plus dust jacket. The green cloth binding is beautifully clean, tight, and unfaded with sharp corners and bright spine gilt. The contents are bright and tight with no spotting and no previous ownership marks. Even the page edges are unusually clean. The dust jacket is unclipped, retaining the original front flap price, and is substantially complete, with minor chipping at the bottom of the spine and fractional loss at the upper rear hinge and upper front flap fold. The thin, light colored dust jackets of this edition proved quite susceptible to soiling and to toning of the spines. Here, the dust jacket spine remains unusually bright, with only a barely discernible hint of color shift between the faces and spine. Trivial soiling is mostly confined to the hinges and flap folds. There are unobtrusive closed tears at the bottom hinges to a maximum depth of 1.5 inch and light wear and wrinkling to extremities. The dust jacket is protected beneath a removable, clear, archival cover.
Step By Step includes 82 newspaper articles focused on foreign affairs written by Churchill between March 1936 and May 1939 at the end of his "wilderness years". Many of them, of course, contain his warnings and predictions about Nazi Germany. Step By Step was published in June 1939. Only a few short months later, on the first day of September 1939, Germany invaded Poland. Churchill had spent the better part of a decade politically isolated, frequently at odds with both his party and prevailing public sentiment. Now he was invited to join the War Cabinet, reprising his First World War role as First Lord of the Admiralty.
Less than a year after Step By Step was published, in May 1940, Churchill became Prime Minister. As a measure of Churchill's prescience and ultimate vindication, when Step by Step was published Labour leader Clement Attlee, a political opponent who would replace Churchill as Prime Minister in late July 1945, wrote to Churchill, "It must be a melancholy satisfaction to you to see how right you were." Others were even more blunt. Sir Desmond Morton, military officer, government official, and appeasement opponent, wrote to Churchill, "Many years on, historians will read this and your speeches in Arms and the Covenant. They will wonder but I doubt they will decide what devil of pride, unbelief, selfishness or sheer madness possessed the English people that they did not rise as one man" and "call on you to lead them."
Reference: Cohen A111.1.a, Woods/ICS A45(a.1), Langworth p.197. Item #006506