Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1957. First edition. Hardcover. This is the first official Soviet publication of Second World War correspondence between Stalin and two wartime U.S. Presidents – Roosevelt and his successor, Truman – as well as two wartime British Prime Ministers – Churchill and his successor, Attlee.
This two-volume set is the first English-language edition, published “probably simultaneously [with its Russian language counterpart] or shortly thereafter… in Moscow.” Most typically encountered are a later English-language edition in slick dust jackets. This first edition is a suitably jacketless and artless affair, the bindings a monument to blunt Soviet functionalism. The green cloth buckram of each volume features slipshod, slightly blurred or off-center gilt stamping on the spines and front covers, with likewise less than crisp blind-stamping on the upper and lower front covers. Two thirds of each front cover is filled with a nearly three-dozen word long title. The cumbersome and long-winded formality is so archetypal of an authoritarian state that it almost approaches a parody of itself. And, of course, showcasing the hardened divisions of the Cold War, the Second World War is referred to as “The Great Patriotic War”. Fortunately, the print quality and paper stock of the contents, while equally uninspired, are adequate.
Notwithstanding aesthetic limitations, condition of this set is near fine. The bindings are square, tight, and clean with only trivial shelf wear to extremities. The contents are likewise clean, with no previous ownership marks and no spotting. The page edges show only a hint of soiling and mild age-toning. Within, transfer browning from the pastedown glue is limited to the leaves adjacent to the pastedowns.
Churchill’s bibliographer, Ronald Cohen, informs us that "The Foreword states that the publication 'contains the full texts of all the documents available in the Soviet Union of J. V. Stalin's correspondence with Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Winston S. Churchill, and Clement R. Attlee during the period in question. Certain messages quoted or otherwise mentioned in publications abroad are missing from this book as their texts have not been found in the Soviet archives.' A further note regarding the language of the publication is appropriate. The publishers provide the following information in a 'Publisher's Note'. The messages were, in all cases, decoded in the British Embassy in Moscow and delivered to Stalin in English; however, 13 were located in the Soviet archives only in their Russian translation. Six of these had appeared in English in Great Britain or the U.S.A., and those are the texts used here. The remaining seven messages exist only in their translation back into English from the Russian." (Cohen, Vol, III, F138.2, p.1738)
Reference: Cohen F138.2, Woods B57. Item #006685