New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1963. Second American issue from first edition plates. Hardcover. This is a full, jacketed set of the second American edition of Winston Churchill’s history of the First World War. A quarter of a century before the Second World War endowed him with lasting fame, 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, 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). The U.S. was the true first edition, preceding its British counterpart.
Like the first edition, this second American edition was published in six volumes, but decades later in 1963-1964. The text is unabridged, being offprinted from the first edition plates (and so technically the Second American issue, rather than a true second edition), but with smaller page margins resulting in more compact bindings. Each dust jacket bears a different half-tone photograph from the war years.
Unfortunately, this edition did not generally seem to hold up well. The blue cloth bindings seem especially prone to wear and the white, pale blue, and red dust jackets proved particularly susceptible to wear, soiling, and sunning. Moreover, many surviving sets are ex-library. This jacketed set features very good to near fine volumes in very good plus dust jackets. The blue cloth bindings are uniformly square, tight, and clean with only minor shelf wear confined to extremities. The contents of all six volumes are bright and clean with a crisp, unread feel, no previous ownership marks, and no spotting. We note only incidental soiling to the page edges. All six dust jackets are complete apart from neatly price-clipped upper front flaps. Shelf presentation is quite good for the edition, with only light scuffs and appreciable toning confined to a few of the red banners at the spine heels, most notably that of Volume Five. The jackets are protected beneath removable, clear, archival covers. Please anticipate that this six-volume set may require additional postage.
Churchill was in a special position to write the history of the First World War, which nearly cost him both his political and corporeal lives. First Lord of the Admiralty from 1911 until 1915, after the Dardanelles disaster, Churchill was scapegoated and forced to resign. He spent political exile as a lieutenant colonel of a battalion in the trenches. Before war's end, Churchill was exonerated and rejoined the Government, foreshadowing the political isolation and restoration he would experience nearly 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 A69.16, Woods/ICS A31(ae), Langworth p.110. Item #007211