London: Thornton Butterworth Limited, 1924. First edition, fifth printing. Hardcover. This is a jacketed British first edition, fifth printing, of the first volume of Winston Churchill's monumental 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. The World Crisis was originally published in six volumes between 1923 and 1931, with the first four volumes spanning the war years 1911-1918 and the final two volumes covering the postwar years 1918-1928 (The Aftermath) and the Eastern theatre (The Eastern Front). This first volume (1911-1914) covers the first four years Churchill spent as First Lord of the Admiralty, as well as the beginning of the war.
This fifth printing of the first edition was issued in 1924, the year following the first printing, and is virtually identical to the first printing. The binding is distinguished only by the presence of a gilt star on the spine denoting the volume number. The only substantial difference in content is title page verso notation of preceding printings. The dust jacket is printed on identical paper with identical spine and front face, differing only in rear face and flap print.
Condition of this copy is very good in a very good dust jacket. The navy cloth binding is tight, bright, and free of scuffing with sharp corners and vivid spine gilt. We note a minor forward lean, light shelf wear to extremities, and minor blemishes to the rear cover. The contents retain a crisp feel. We find no previous ownership marks. Differential toning to the endpapers corresponding to the dust jacket flaps confirms that this copy has spent life jacketed. Spotting is primarily confined to the first and final leaves and the page edges, with occasional intrusions into blank inner margins. The dust jacket is complete. Moreover, the light green hue of the paper, so prone to sunning, endures, even on the spine, which shows only a hint of toning. Soiling is light and wear minimal, primarily confined to extremities. The chief defect is a faint moisture stain to the upper third of the spine. This does not appreciably detract from shelf presentation. The dust jacket is protected beneath a clear, removable, archival cover.
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. Even Secretary of State for War Lord Kitchener, with whom Churchill had been variously at odds for nearly two decades, told Churchill on his final day as First Lord “Well, there is one thing at any rate they cannot take from you. The Fleet was ready." (The World Crisis: 1915, p.391) Nonetheless, when Churchill advocated successfully for a naval campaign in the Dardanelles that ultimately proved disastrous, a convergence of factors sealed his political fate. Churchill was scapegoated and forced to resign, leaving the Admiralty in May 1915. Years later, Churchill’s wife, Clementine, recalled to Churchill’s official biographer “I thought he would never get over the Dardanelles; I thought he would die of grief.” (Gilbert, Vol. III, p.473) 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. And, of course, Churchill famously returned to the Admiralty in September 1939. 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.
References: Cohen A69.2(I).g, Woods/ICS A31(ab), Langworth p.105. Item #007586