London: Educational Book Co., Ltd., 1955. First Illustrated Edition. Hardcover. This is the "Chartwell Edition" of Churchill's The Second World War, bound in the publisher's original "deluxe" blue quarter leather. This first illustrated edition of The Second World War was published soon after the British first edition and is aesthetically superior in every respect. It is also the final text, "in which all those first minor errors are corrected", according to the author.
This particular edition stands the test of time as among the most aesthetically pleasing and the most pleasant to actually read. It was issued in two bindings - a red cloth and a scarcer blue quarter leather binding. This is the Deluxe binding, featuring blue pebble grain Morocco goatskin spines and light blue cloth covers. Not only attractive, the books also have a pleasing weight and size, measuring roughly 10 x 7 inches, each volume weighing three pounds. The boards are stout with beveled edges. The hubbed spine compartments are both blind and gilt ruled, two printed with author/title and subtitle/volume number. The contents are bound with gray marbled endpapers, head and foot bands, and dark blue topstain. The text is entirely reset from the first edition and is profusely illustrated with hundreds of illustrations on heavy, coated paper. Each volume also contains a color frontispiece and three-color maps.
Regrettably, surviving sets frequently show significant wear and blemishes. This set is very good, certainly not fine but nonetheless cleaner and brighter than the norm. All six bindings are square and tight with only light shelf wear to extremities. The spines show inevitable toning, but the toning is uniform, much of the blue hue remains, the gilt print is clearly legible, and the spines remain nicely rounded. Shelf presentation is quite respectable, the spines showing only a few small blemishes. The contents are clean and complete, with no previous ownership marks and no spotting. The blue-stained top edges show some uniform sunning, like the spines.
The Second World War is Churchill's history of the epic 20th Century struggle that was so indelibly stamped by his leadership. 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 essential, iconic, and a vital part of the historical record. Richard Langworth calls the six-volume epic "indispensable reading for anyone who seeks a true understanding of the war that made us what we are today." The first volume of Churchill’s history was published in 1948, three years after the war ended. The sixth and final volume was published in 1954, during Churchill’s second and final premiership. Please anticipate that this large, heavy set will be shipped at cost.
Reference: Cohen A240.7.a, Woods/ICS A123(d) Langworth p.269. Item #007499