London: Cassell and Company, Ltd., 1948. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. This is a superior six-volume jacketed set of British first editions of The Second World War, Winston S. Churchill's history of the epic 20th Century struggle that was so indelibly stamped by his leadership. Jacketed British first edition sets in marginal condition are not uncommon. However, the coarse cloth bindings of this edition proved susceptible to soiling and mildew, the contents (printed on post-war "Economy Standards" paper) proved highly prone to spotting, the red-stained top edges are most often severely faded, and the dust jackets proved exceptionally vulnerable to pronounced spine toning.
This set not only suffers few of the typical deficiencies, but is housed in two bespoke slipcases. These slipcases are stout card covered in red and blue paper, each slipcase featuring an inset on each of the three slipcase sides. These insets feature an exacting facsimile of the front faces of each of the six dust jackets for the British first edition set housed within. Hence the title and unique subtitle of each volume appears on the exterior of the slipcase housing each volume. The blue and red of the cases matches the blue and red print on the dust jacket faces. The slipcases are in fine condition, clean and bright with no appreciable wear.
The set is worthy of the fancy slipcases, featuring near fine plus first edition, first printing volumes in dust jackets approaching near fine. We find it increasingly difficult to offer sets thus. The volumes are uniformly square, clean, bright, and tight with sharp corners, bright spine gilt, and no reportable wear or soiling. The contents equal or exceed the bindings. All six volumes are immaculately clean within. We find no previous ownership marks. Spotting, endemic to the edition, is entirely absent. Even the fore and bottom edges are surprisingly clean. The red-stained top edges all retain strong hue.
All six dust jackets are unclipped, retaining the original front flap prices, and entirely complete, with no loss. None. We note only the slightest shelf wear to a few extremities. We would grade these jackets as truly fine if not for a mild case of typical spine toning. Despite this mild toning, the red subtitles remain clearly legible across all six dust jacket spines. The dust jackets are protected beneath clear, removable, archival covers.
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 iconic, a vital part of the historical record. The six-volume epic has been called "indispensable reading for anyone who seeks a true understanding of the war that made us what we are today."
Please anticipate that this set may require additional postage depending on destination.
Reference: Cohen A240.4(I-VI).a, Woods/ICS A123(ba), Langworth p.264. Item #007671