London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1901. Second edition, final printing. Hardcover. This is the second and final printing of the Silver Library edition of Churchill's first book. The Silver Library edition was the first to incorporate the author's corrections in the text, making this an important and highly collectable edition. Unfortunately, the maroon boards proved highly susceptible to fading and wear, the paper easily browned and became brittle, and the binding often cracked. Of only 1,000 copies of the second printing, just 337 were recorded as sold, so they are scarce. Despite the small number, there were multiple binding variants in this printing. This particular variant is bound in cloth that is smoother than that of the first printing, but nonetheless a similar maroon color with a blind rule border on the front cover rather than a gilt rule border. Moreover, this copy features the distinctive swan and ship endpapers typically found only in first printing copies, featuring the corrected “1724” date (the correct year Longmans was founded, rather than the erroneous "1726" on the endpapers of the first printing of the Silver Library edition)..
Condition is very good plus. The binding is square and tight with no discernible color shift between the covers and spine. Light shelf wear is manifest only at the corners and spine ends. Shelf appearance is superior, with the deep maroon hue preserved, the gilt bright, and only slight soiling. Though age-toned – ubiquitous in this edition - the contents are only mildly so, the toning showing only at the page edges. Moreover, the contents are notably clean. We find no previous ownership marks. Spotting is truly trivial, a scattered few spots confined to the fore edges with only a few intrusions into the blank inner margins of the text. The top edge shows a little shelf dust. All maps are present and complete, as is the frontispiece and tissue guard.
The Story of the Malakand Field Force recounts Churchill’s experiences while attached to Sir Bindon Blood's punitive expedition on the Northwest Frontier of India in 1897. This book was written and published while Churchill was a young cavalry officer still serving in India. He had successfully applied his pen as a war correspondent - indeed the book is based on his dispatches to the Daily Telegraph and the Pioneer Mail – but this was his first book-length work. Churchill was motivated by a combination of pique and ambition. He was vexed that his Daily Telegraph columns were to be published unsigned. On 25 October 1897 Churchill wrote to his mother: "...I had written them with the design... of bringing my personality before the electorate." Two weeks later, his resolve to write a book firming, Churchill again wrote to his mother: "...It is a great undertaking but if carried out will yield substantial results in every way, financially, politically, and even, though do I care a damn, militarily." Having invested his ambition in his first book, he clearly labored over it: "I have discovered a great power of application which I did not think I possessed. For two months I have worked not less than five hours a day."
Churchill sent the finished manuscript to his mother on the last day of 1897. It was published on 14 March of 1898. Publication was arranged by Churchill's uncle while the author was still in India, resulting in numerous spelling and detail errors. Churchill was incensed by the errors and acted with haste to address them. In part because of the errors in the first edition which so vexed Churchill, the publisher issued this second, Silver Library edition less than a year after the first in January 1899.
Reference: Cohen A1.3.b, Woods/ICS A1(ba.2), Langworth p.22. Item #007052