London: Thornton Butterworth, Ltd., 1923. First edition, fourth printing. Hardcover. This is a jacketed British first edition, fourth printing of the second 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”. Then, being Churchill, he wrote about it. The World Crisis was originally published in six volumes between 1923 and 1931, with the first four volumes spanning the war years 1911-1918 and the final two volumes covering the postwar years 1918-1928 (The Aftermath) and the Eastern theatre (The Eastern Front). In this 1915 volume Churchill provides his perspective on the disastrous Dardanelles offensive. This fourth printing of December 1923 (erroneously designated “Second Edition” on the copyright page), was published less than two months after the first printing. Of note, the dust jacket for this fourth printing is identical to that of the first printing, as is the blue cloth binding
The British edition of The World Crisis is aesthetically commanding, its large volumes with shoulder notes summarizing the subject of each page. Unfortunately, the original dust jackets are quite scarce and the smooth navy cloth of the British first editions proved quite susceptible to wear, the contents prone to spotting and toning.
Condition of this copy is very good plus in a very good dust jacket. The navy cloth binding is square, tight, immaculately clean and beautifully bright with sharp corners and vivid spine gilt. The contents retain a crisp feel. We find no previous ownership marks. Differential toning to the endpapers corresponding to dust jacket flaps confirms what the binding already testifies – that this copy has spent life jacketed. Spotting is primarily confined to the first and final leaves and page edges. Of note, laid in we found a contemporary advert raising funds for a “Soldier’s Chapel” in Essex, the advert “Reprinted from The Essex Chronicle of April 15th, 1927.” The dust jacket is complete and bright, with only mild spine toning, light wear to extremities, and incidental soiling. We would grade this jacket as near fine if not for a moisture stain affecting the upper three inches (7.6 cm) of the jacket spine. The dust jacket is protected beneath a clear, removable, archival cover.
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, 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. 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(II).d, Woods/ICS A31(ab), Langworth p.105. Item #007016