Arms and the Covenant
London: George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd., 1938. First Edition, only printing. Hardcover. This book is the precursor to Churchill’s great war speeches, the first edition, only printing. This particular copy is increasingly scarce thus, in the first issue dust jacket.
This copy is very good in a very good minus dust jacket. The blue cloth binding is beautifully square, clean, bright, and tight with sharp corners and vivid spine gilt. We note only a hint of sunning at the spine tips. The contents retain a crisp, unread feel. Trivial spotting appears confined to the endpapers, half-title, and the blank frontispiece recto. The sole previous ownership markings are initials and a surname, neatly and diminutively inked on the upper right half-title recto. The fore and bottom edges are clean apart from modest age-toning. The blue-stained top edges are uniformly dulled. This copy would merit “very good plus” or better if not for a missing front free endpaper. This has been neatly but fully removed, so that the contents begin at the half-title, which shows customary transfer browning corresponding to the dust jacket flaps.
The dust jacket is unclipped, retaining the original lower front flap price, and substantially complete, with tiny losses confined to the flap fold and joint extremities. The spine is moderately toned and soiled and the faces and flap folds show some spotting. The dust jacket is protected beneath a clear, removable, archival cover.
Arms and the Covenant has been called "…the permanent record of one man’s unceasing struggle in the face of resentment, apathy, and complacency" and "probably the most crucial volume of speeches that he ever published." (Frederick Woods) The book contains text from 41 Churchill speeches spanning 25 October 1928 to 24 March 1938. These criticize British foreign policy and warn prophetically of the coming danger. The world remembers the resolute war leader to whom the British turned, but it is easy to forget the years leading up to the war, which Churchill spent persistent, eloquent, and largely unheeded, often at odds with both his own political party and prevailing public sentiment.
The speeches were compiled by Churchill's son, Randolph, who contributed a preface and is credited with compilation. Randolph would do the same for his father's first volume of war speeches, Into Battle, published in an almost unrecognizable world less than three years later. The “Covenant” in the title of Arms and the Covenant refers to the League of Nations Covenant, the instrument that was to maintain peace in the wake of the First World War. As testimony to the book's importance, a copy of the U.S. edition lay on "President Roosevelt's bedside table, with key passages, including an analysis of the president's peace initiative, underscored" (William Manchester's The Last Lion, Volume II, p.305). The British first edition saw only a single printing of 5,000 copies published on 24 June 1938 and of these, perhaps as few as 3,381 were issued in the distinctive pale blue dust jacket.
Reference: Cohen A107.1. Woods/ICS A44(a), Langworth p.191. Item #007444