London: Cassell and Company, Ltd., 1948. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. This is a six-volume jacketed set of British first editions of The Second World War, Winston S. Churchill's history of the epic 20th Century struggle that was so indelibly stamped by his leadership. Jacketed British first edition sets in marginal condition are not uncommon. However, the coarse cloth bindings of this edition proved susceptible to soiling and mildew, the contents (printed on post-war "Economy Standards" paper) proved highly prone to spotting, the red-stained top edges are most often severely faded, and the dust jackets proved exceptionally vulnerable to pronounced spine toning.
This complete, first edition, first printing is a welcome exception to the norm - featuring near fine plus or better volumes in very good plus or better dust jackets. The black cloth bindings are exceptional –clean, bright, tight, and square with only the most trivial shelf wear, the worst of which is tiny bumps to three of the Volume I corners. The contents are likewise impressive for the edition, offering a truly unusual trifecta – no spotting, no previous ownership marks, and strong red topstain across all six volumes. The luck continues almost as strong with the dust jackets. All six dust jackets are unclipped, retaining their original front flap prices. The jackets are also clean, with no appreciable soiling. Moreover, the spine toning that plagues this edition is quite minimal and the jackets retain sharp and distinct red subtitles. Only the Volume VI jacket shows any appreciable fading of the red subtitle, and even in that case the lettering remains distinct. The chief defect of the jackets is wear to some of the spine ends. The Volume I jacket shows some minor loss at the spine head and upper rear hinge, with just a bit of further scuffing between the bright subtitle and author’s name, along the rear hinge, and at the lower hinge extremities. The Volume V jacket has a small loss at the upper right of the spine with lesser scuffing to the lower hinge extremities. All six jackets are protected beneath clear, removable, archival covers.
Seldom, if ever, has history endowed a statesman with both singular ability to make history, and singular ability to write it. As with so much of what Churchill wrote, The Second World War is not "history" in the strictly academic, objectivist sense, but rather Churchill's perspective on history. In his March 1948 introduction to the first volume, Churchill himself made the disclaimer, "I do not describe it as history... it is a contribution to history..." Nonetheless the compelling fact remains, as stated by Churchill himself, "I am perhaps the only man who has passed through both the two supreme cataclysms of recorded history in high Cabinet office... I was for more than five years in this second struggle with Germany the Head of His Majesty's government. I write, therefore, from a different standpoint and with more authority than was possible in my earlier books." Certainly The Second World War may be regarded as an intensely personal and inherently biased history. Nonetheless, Churchill's work remains essential, iconic, and a vital part of the historical record. Richard Langworth calls the six-volume epic "indispensable reading for anyone who seeks a true understanding of the war that made us what we are today."
Please anticipate that this set may require additional postage depending on destination.
Reference: Cohen A240.4(I-VI).a, Woods/ICS A123(ba), Langworth p.264. Item #006772