Item #006744 The World Crisis: 1915. Winston S. Churchill.
The World Crisis: 1915
The World Crisis: 1915
The World Crisis: 1915

The World Crisis: 1915

New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1923. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. This is the first edition, first printing of the second volume of Churchill's acclaimed history of the First World War. In this second volume Churchill provides his perspective on the disastrous Dardanelles offensive – which nearly cost him both his political and corporeal lives. The U.S. editions were bound in a handsome maroon cloth that proved quite susceptible to toning and wear. Moreover, the contents, with their untrimmed fore edges, are quite often spotted and age-toned.

This first edition, first printing of the 1915 volume approaches very good condition. The maroon cloth binding is square, tight, and retains strong, unfaded color. The binding is the first variant of the first edition, identified by a blank front cover and lacking two stars on the spine. (See Cohen, Vol. I, A69.1(II).a, p.222.) There is shelf wear to extremities, including a little fraying at the spine head, a few blemishes, including faint staining to the lower spine, and an imperfection to the front cover cloth leaving a slight, thin blister near the fore edge. The contents are clean, age-toned but showing no spotting or appreciable soiling. The sole previous ownership mark is a small, San Francisco bookseller sticker affixed to the lower rear pastedown.

A quarter of a century before the Second World War endowed him with lasting fame, Winston Churchill played a uniquely critical, controversial, and varied role in the “War to end all wars”. Then, being Churchill, he wrote about it. The World Crisis was originally published in six volumes between 1923 and 1931, with the first four volumes spanning the war years 1911-1918 and the final two volumes covering the postwar years 1918-1928 (The Aftermath) and the Eastern theatre (The Eastern Front). Unusual among Churchill’s many published books, the U.S. first edition of The World Crisis preceded the British, making it the true first edition.

In October 1911, aged 36, Winston Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty. He entered the post with the brief to change war strategy and ensure the readiness of the world’s most powerful navy. He did both. Even Secretary of State for War Lord Kitchener, with whom Churchill had been variously at odds for nearly two decades, told Churchill on his final day as First Lord “Well, there is one thing at any rate they cannot take from you. The Fleet was ready." (The World Crisis: 1915, p.391) Nonetheless, when Churchill advocated successfully for a naval campaign in the Dardanelles that ultimately proved disastrous, a convergence of factors sealed his political fate. Churchill was scapegoated and forced to resign, leaving the Admiralty in May 1915.

Years later, Churchill’s wife, Clementine, recalled to Churchill’s official biographer “I thought he would never get over the Dardanelles; I thought he would die of grief.” (Gilbert, Vol. III, p.473) By November, Churchill resigned even his nominal Cabinet posts to spend the rest of his political exile as a lieutenant colonel leading a battalion in the trenches at the Front. Before war's end, Churchill was exonerated by the Dardanelles Commission and rejoined the Government, foreshadowing the political isolation and restoration he would experience two decades later leading up to the Second World War. And, of course, Churchill famously returned to the Admiralty in September 1939. Despite Churchill's political recovery, the stigma of the Dardanelles lingered. Hence Churchill had more than just literary and financial compulsion to write his history.

Reference: Cohen A69.1(II).a, Woods/ICS A31(aa), Langworth p.103. Item #006744

Price: $120.00

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