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 is increasingly elusive thus, having escaped most of the usual depredations. This set features very good plus or better volumes in near fine dust jackets. The black cloth bindings are excellent – clean, bright, tight, and square with sharp corners, bright spine gilt, and no reportable wear or blemishes. The contents are likewise superior for the edition. We find no previous ownership marks. The red topstain retains strong hue across the volumes, only lightly sunned. The only disappointment that prevents our grading these volumes as “fine” is spotting, almost entirely confined to the page edges and heavy only to the fore and bottom edges of the first two volumes.
The dust jackets exceed the volumes. The jackets are clean and complete, retaining their original front flap prices, showing no loss, tears, or appreciable soiling. Most impressive is shelf presentation. The spine toning that plagues this edition is truly trivial, leaving the red spine subtitles bright and distinct on all six volumes. Few first edition sets feature jackets so bright, clean, and complete. All six jackets are fitted with 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 iconic, a vital part of the historical record. The six-volume epic has been called "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 #007314