London: Cassell and Company, Ltd., 1948. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. This is a six-volume jacketed set of British first editions of The Second World War, Winston S. 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 complete, first edition, first printing set suffers some deficiencies typical of the edition, but is nonetheless quite respectable, both the volumes and jackets approaching very good condition. The black cloth bindings are uniformly square and tight with bright spine gilt. We note only incidental scuffs and two small corner bumps in the set. The contents are clean. Spotting within the set appears confined to the volume I prelims and is otherwise found only on the page edges, and substantial only on the page edges of the first two volumes. The sole previous ownership mark we find in the set is a diminutive, contemporary gift inscription inked in a tidy hand on the Vol. VI front free endpaper recto: “To Bill | Best wishes | 1953/54/55” | Ken”. The red topstain is lightly sunned across all six volumes, but fairly uniformly so, with all six top edges retaining a decent amount of color. Five of the six dust jackets are unclipped, retaining their original front flap prices. Only the Vol. VI jacket has a neatly price-clipped lower front flap. All six jackets are otherwise nearly complete, with only fractional loss at hinge extremities and corners. The only instance of soiling appears to be a small stain on the lower right Vol. II front face. The jacket spines are all modestly toned, as usual, but nonetheless all six red subtitles on the jacket spines remain clearly legible. 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 #006642