Sydney & Melbourne: Australasian Publishing Company Ltd., 1923. First Australian edition. Hardcover. This is the Australian first edition of The World Crisis, Winston Churchill’s 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. Only the first two books – 1911-1914 and 1915 – had separate Australian issues. For the balance of the six-book set Australian customers were offered British issues published by Thornton Butterworth. Hence these two books constitute the entire Australian first edition.
Australian editions are scarce and their dust jackets are genuinely rare. The jackets are nearly identical to those of the British first editions, printed on the same paper stock and with the same print and layout with the exception of "Australasian Publishing Co" at the base of the jacket spine in lieu of "Thornton Butterworth" and the absence of a price on the lower spine and lower front panel. The volumes beneath are bound in the same blue cloth as the British first editions with the same gilt and blind stamping, lacking only the publisher's name at the base of the spine. The contents appear to differ only at the title pages, which state "Australasian Publishing Company Ltd." in lieu of "Thornton Butterworth".
The 1911-1914 volume approaches very good in a good dust jacket. The binding is square and tight with bright spine gilt. The binding shows minor shelf wear to extremities and some mottling to the cloth covers. The contents retain a crisp feel. Spotting is primarily confined to the prelims and page edges. Differential toning to the endpapers corresponds to the dust jacket flaps. An old gift inscription in a lovely hand is inked on the recto of the blank leaf preceding the half title. The 1911-1914 jacket shows shallow loss to the spine ends, fractional loss to the corners, and staining and soiling to the blank rear face and spine, which is also toned. There is white (apparently archival) tape reinforcement to the edges on the jacket verso. The 1915 volume is very good, clean and bright with light shelf wear to extremities, bumped lower front cover corner, and unobtrusive blistering at the front hinge and lower spine. Spotting of the contents is primarily confined to the first and final leaves and page edges. Australian provenance is unequivocal, with an inked name and “Taree” (a town in NSW) on the front free endpaper recto and a Sydney bookseller’s sticker affixed to the lower front pastedown. The dust jacket is very good minus, respectably bright, with minimal spine toning, despite moderate overall soiling. Trivial loss is confined to the hinge extremities and corners.
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, he 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. 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.
This Australian edition of The World Crisis may be the most poignant, given that Australian forces paid such a disproportionately high price for the strategic and tactical failures in the Dardanelles.
Reference: Cohen A69.4(I&II), Woods/ICS A31(ad), Langworth p.109. Item #006754