London: William Heinemann Ltd., 1990. First edition, third printing. Hardcover. This British first edition, third printing of the sixth volume of the Official Biography of Winston S. Churchill is inscribed by the author to a legendary actor and activist. The title page inscription in five lines reads: “To Charlton Heston | from one of your myriad advisers | with warmest regards from the author | Martin Gilbert | 16th August 1991”. Laid in is a 19 August 1991 letter from then-president of The Claremont Institute Larry P. Arnn conveying this inscribed presentation copy, as well as a printed “With Compliments” slip from Larry P. Arnn.
This third printing was issued in 1990 in red cloth with red topstain and solid color dust jacket, consonant with the five preceding British first edition volumes. Condition is near fine in a good dust jacket. The massive binding is square, clean, and tight with sharp corners. We note only minor shelf wear to the bottom edges and a small, L-shaped scratch at the lower left of the spine. The contents are bright with no spotting, the red topstain unfaded, and the fore and bottom edges clean apart from a hint of shelf dust. The dust jacket is bright and unclipped, though with a price sticker affixed over the original publisher’s price and with a triangular loss and lesser chip losses at the spine head, as well as minor wear to the edges. The jacket is protected beneath a clear, removable, archival cover.
Churchill’s Official Biography was begun by Winston’s son, Randolph Churchill (1911-1968), and completed by Sir Martin Gilbert (1936-2015). In 1962, at the age of 25, Gilbert joined Churchill's biography team, then led by Randolph. Of what became his life's work, Gilbert said: "I'd thought I'd last four or five months." Instead, when Randolph died in 1968 with only two of the eight volumes completed, Gilbert took over, committing the substantial portion of his scholarship and life's work to documenting, comprehending, and communicating what Gilbert called the "remarkable and versatile life" of Winston Churchill. The result is an epic piece of scholarship about a singularly epic life.
The British first editions of the eight main text volumes – the narrative story of Churchill’s life – were originally published between 1966 and 1988. This sixth volume covers the most fraught years of the war for Britain - 1939 to 1941 - from the start of the war and Churchill’s return to the Admiralty to his assumption of the wartime premiership in May 1940 up to America's official entry into the war after Pearl Harbor, marking the end of Britain's solitary stand against Hitler's Germany.
Although he played a diversity of characters in nearly 100 films, Charlton Heston (1923-2008) was best known for his larger-than-life big screen personas, among them Ben-Hur (for which he won a 1959 Best Actor Academy Award), Moses, Michelangelo, and Andrew Jackson. Heston’s presence was not confined to the screen; both parties urged him to run for elective office, but he refused, quipping “I’d rather play a senator than be one”. Nonetheless, Heston was unapologetically political. Moreover, “There was a certain seamlessness between Heston’s cinematic career and his citizenship.” (ANB) In both his life and livelihood Heston seemed to inhabit a pervading sense of “responsibility, individualism, and conservative masculinity”. Hence what seemed like contrary political actions were notionally philosophically consistent. Heston advocated for medical and pension benefits for members of the Screen Actors Guild and he was a civil rights activist who “stood fifteen feet from Martin Luther King, Jr. on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the latter’s “I have a Dream” speech. Despite opposing the Vietnam war, Heston toured Vietnam for the USO. His passion for civil liberties famously extended to gun rights, culminating in his presidency of the National Rifle Association. One can imagine Churchill recognizing Heston’s principled contrarianism coupled with a gift for articulate showmanship.
Reference: Zoller A301f. Item #006771