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.
The dust jacket has done its job protecting the book beneath, which is near fine - noteworthy for being uncommonly clean inside and out. The binding is not only square, tight, and entirely unfaded, but immaculately clean with sharp corners and virtually no wear. The contents are mildly age-toned, but retain a crisp, unread feel and show no spotting – not even on the fore and bottom edges. The blue topstain retains uniform, dark hue. We note customary browning to the half-title from the pastedown glue and the illustrated bookplate of “B. D. Farquharson” affixed to the front pastedown. Overall, this is among the cleanest copies we have encountered.
The first issue dust jacket shows more age and wear than the lovely book it has sheltered. The jacket spine is toned, with minor losses to the upper and center spine, and a larger, roughly .75 x .75 inch (1.9 x 1.9 cm) loss at the lower left of the spine. There are also fractional losses at the flap fold extremities, short closed tears and wrinkling to the upper rear face, and the lower front flap is neatly price-clipped. The dust jacket is protected with 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 #007454