New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1941. U.S. first edition, second printing. Hardcover. This is the precursor to Churchill's great war speeches, the U.S. first edition, second printing in dust jacket, published in October 1938, closely following the first printing of 30 September 1938. The contents and binding are identical to those of the first printing, with the sole exception of “Second Impression” printed on the copyright page. The dust jacket features an identical spine and front face to that of the first printing, differing only in the content of the rear panel and flaps.
This is a handsome book, a substantial 9.5 x 6.375 inches (25.13 x 16.19 cm) bound in blue cloth with red banners on the front cover and spine lettered in silver and red topstain. This is a superior, near fine copy in a very good plus dust jacket. The blue cloth binding remains beautifully square, clean, bright, and tight, with sharp corners, flawed only by a little wrinkling to the spine ends. The contents are equally impressive, beautifully bright and clean. We find no spotting and discern no age toning. The fore and bottom edges are perfectly clean and the red-stained top edge retains uniformly bright color. The only previous ownership mark is the large, illustrated bookplate of “William C. Mullendore” affixed to the half title recto. William Clinton Mullendore (1892-1983) was an American lawyer and businessman who served in the Hoover Administration and later opposed the National Recovery Administration.
The distinctive red, white, and black dust jacket is neatly price-clipped at the upper front flap, but otherwise complete, and notably bright. Shelf presentation is superior, with only the slightest color shift between the front panel and spine. We note minor wrinkling and short closed tears to extremities and a few blemishes and light soiling overall. The dust jacket is fitted with a clear, removable, archival cover.
While England Slept contains text from 41 Churchill speeches criticizing British foreign policy, spanning 25 October 1928 to 24 March 1938. This collection has been called "…the permanent record of one man’s unceasing struggle in the face of resentment, apathy, and complacency”. 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.
At the time, on the eve of the Second World War, the British edition was given the politically palatable title Arms and the Covenant – referencing the failed Covenant of the post-WWI League of Nations. The U.S. title – While England Slept - is more candid.
The world remembers the resolute war leader to whom the British entrusted their fate, but it is easy to forget the years leading up to the war, which Churchill spent persistent, eloquent, and largely unheeded. Churchill bibliographer Frederick Woods called this edition "probably the most crucial volume of speeches that he ever published". As testimony to the book's importance, a copy of While England Slept lay on "President Roosevelt's bedside table, with key passages, including an analysis of the president's peace initiative, underscored." (William Manchester, The Last Lion, Volume II, p.305)
Reference: Cohen A107.2.b, Woods/ICS A44(b.2). Langworth p.193. Item #007729