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 set suffers some of the typical depredations, but is nonetheless better than most we see, featuring very good volumes in good plus dust jackets. The black cloth bindings remain square and tight with bright spine gilt. We note only light shelf wear and a few tiny blemishes, including a tiny abrasion along the Volume I rear hinge. The contents are quite respectably clean overall. Volume I features the only previous ownership mark and the sole spotting observed in the set – the owner name inked on the half title dated “Sept. 1948.” and the spotting primarily confined to the text block edges, with only a few, trivial intrusions into blank inner margins. The red topstain remains uniformly dark and unfaded across all six volumes. Apart from the Volume I spotting, the white fore and bottom edges show only a few instances of light soiling. Five of the dust jackets are complete, unclipped with no loss. The Volume I dust jacket has a price-clipped lower front flap and minor loss, scuffing, and a short closed tear at the spine head. All six dust jacket spines show various degrees of the toning endemic to the edition, the red subtitles variously faded. 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 #006801