New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1931. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. This is a jacketed copy of the first edition, first printing of the sixth and final book of The World Crisis, Churchill's monumental history of the First World War. 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 fifth dealing with the postwar years 1918-1928 (The Aftermath). In proposing this sixth and final book to his publisher, Churchill wrote: "In the previous volumes of the World Crisis I have described only in a few pages the course of events in the Eastern theatre. They have merely been the background of our main drama of the war. But now I think I might write a volume called 'The Eastern Front' (published as "The Unknown War" in the U.S.), which would be separate from but supplementary to our five volume history." Scribner published 3,870 first printing copies in 1931. First printing dust jackets are now quite scarce and absent the dust jackets the russet cloth bindings proved highly prone to fading and wear. The World Crisis is one of the few Churchill editions for which this, the U.S. edition, is the true first, as initial publication preceded the British.
This first edition, first printing of the sixth and final volume is good in a very good dust jacket. First printing is confirmed by the Scribner’s “A” on the title page verso. The dark russet cloth binding is beautifully clean, tight, and square with superb spine presentation, sharp corners, and only a hint of shelf wear to extremities. Moreover, the contents are clean and bright. Even the untrimmed fore edges remain clean and the contents show no hint of spotting. The only previous ownership marks are a previous owner’s bookplate affixed to the front pastedown and a tiny previous owner sticker affixed to the lower rear pastedown. We would grade this copy as “fine” but for one considerable aesthetic flaw – a large patch on the front cover, encompassing most of the author’s name, is significantly discolored, likely either abraded or briefly exposed to moisture. The dust jacket is shows only mild spine toning and is notably clean, with only a few trivial blemishes. The upper front flap is neatly price-clipped and there is shallow intermittent loss to a maximum depth of .5 inch (1.27 cm) at the spine heel and bottom edge of the front face. The only other loss is fractional, confined to corners and hinge extremities. The dust jacket is protected beneath a removable, clear, archival cover.
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. 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. 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(V).a, Woods/ICS A31(aa), Langworth p.103. Item #006747