Sydney, Melbourne: Australasian Publishing Company Ltd., 1923. First Australian edition. Hardcover. This is the Australian first edition of The World Crisis, Winston Churchill’s history of the First World War. A quarter of a century before the Second World War endowed him with lasting fame, Winston Churchill played a uniquely critical, controversial, and varied role in the “War to end all wars”. Then, being Churchill, he wrote about it. Only the first two books – 1911-1914 and 1915 – had separate Australian issues. For the balance of the six-book set Australian customers were offered British issues published by Thornton Butterworth. Hence these two books constitute the entire Australian first edition.
Australian editions are scarce. The volumes are bound in the same blue cloth as the British first editions with the same gilt and blind stamping, lacking only the publisher's name at the base of the spine. The contents appear to differ only at the title pages, which state "Australasian Publishing Company Ltd." in lieu of "Thornton Butterworth".
Condition of the 1911-1914 volume is very good plus. The blue cloth binding is tight and square, retaining a nicely rounded spine, bright spine gilt, and showing only trivial shelf wear. The contents are crisp, bright, and tight. There is a single previous owner name in pencil on the front free endpaper recto and a tiny Hobart bookseller's ink stamp on the front pastedown. There is no internal spotting and only a few tiny spots on the otherwise clean and bright text block edges. Condition of the 1915 volume is very good. The blue cloth binding is tight and square with excellent spine presentation. There is bumping to the corners and some blistering of the cloth along the rear hinge. The contents show no spotting. The front free endpaper recto features both an inked owner name and an armorial bookplate. The front pastedown has a small Sydney bookseller sticker affixed at the lower right corner. There is a small ink stamp on the lower rear pastedown. The page edges are age-toned, but not spotted.
In October 1911, aged 36, Winston Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty. He entered the post with the brief to change war strategy and ensure the readiness of the world’s most powerful navy. He did both. Nonetheless, when Churchill advocated successfully for a naval campaign in the Dardanelles that ultimately proved disastrous, he was scapegoated and forced to resign, leaving the Admiralty in May 1915. By November, Churchill resigned even his nominal Cabinet posts to spend the rest of his political exile as a lieutenant colonel leading a battalion in the trenches at the Front. Before war's end, Churchill was exonerated by the Dardanelles Commission and rejoined the Government, foreshadowing the political isolation and restoration he would experience 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.
This Australian edition of The World Crisis may be the most poignant, given that Australian forces paid such a disproportionately high price for the strategic and tactical failures in the Dardanelles. And of course the 1915 volume is arguably the heart of the work, since it provides Churchill's perspective on the Dardanelles offensive.
Reference: Cohen A69.4(I&II), Woods/ICS A31(ad), Langworth p.109. Item #007577