London: Thornton Butterworth Limited, 1929. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. This is a jacketed British first edition, first printing, first state of the fifth and penultimate volume of 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”. This volume deals with the postwar years 1918 to 1928. Though the U.S. first edition of The World Crisis preceded the British, many consider the British edition aesthetically superior, with its larger volumes and shoulder notes summarizing the subject of each page. Unfortunately, the original dust jackets are scarce and the smooth navy cloth of the British first editions proved quite susceptible to wear, the contents prone to spotting and toning. Moreover, the cloth binding of this fifth volume proved particularly susceptible to blistering.
Condition of this first edition, first printing is very good in a very good dust jacket. First state is confirmed by the lack of an errata slip at p.9. The blue cloth binding is bright, square, and tight, with sharp corners, vivid spine gilt, and only a trivial hint of wear to extremities. Blistering is nominal for the edition, with just a hint along the rear cover fore edge. The contents remain bright and crisp; the book feels unread. Previous ownership marks are an illustrated bookplate with the owner’s autograph, affixed to the front free endpaper recto, and a tiny “Huddersfield” bookshop sticker affixed to the lower rear pastedown. Light spotting appears confined to the first and final leaves and the page edges. The dust jacket is nearly complete, with minor losses to the hinge extremities and corners. The jacket shows overall toning, more significant to the spine, light soiling, and modest wear to hinges and extremities. The dust jacket is now protected beneath a removable, archival quality clear cover.
Published between 1923 and 1931, The World Crisis spans the 1911-1918 war years, with two supplemental volumes covering the postwar years 1918-1928 (The Aftermath) and the Eastern theatre (The Eastern Front).
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 A69.2(IV).a, Woods/ICS A31(ab), Langworth p.105. Item #006758