Item #007824 While England Slept. Winston S. Churchill.
While England Slept
While England Slept
While England Slept
While England Slept

While England Slept

New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1938. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. This is the precursor to Churchill's great war speeches, the U.S. first edition, first printing in the first printing dust jacket, published 11 months before the outbreak of the Second World War. This is a superior example, increasingly elusive thus.

The U.S. first edition 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 lovely, better than near fine copy in a better than very good plus dust jacket. The blue cloth binding remains beautifully square, clean, bright, and tight with sharp corners. We note only a little wrinkling at the spine ends and a trivial hint of shelf wear to the bottom edges. The contents are immaculately clean with no spotting. The red-stained top edges retain uniform, strong hue. The sole previous ownership mark is the tiny bookseller sticker of New York City's "Gotham Book Mart" which was "a vital bookstore in the New York literary scene from its creation in 1920 to its closing in 2006." We would grade the volume as truly fine if not for mild age-toning to the otherwise lovely contents.

The distinctive red, white, and black dust jacket is highly complete, notably clean, and unusually bright. The jacket is unclipped, retaining the original “$4.00” front flap price, and shows only the most trivial, fractional loss to the spine ends and upper flap fold corners. Wear is minimal and confined to extremities. Soiling is likewise minimal, noticeable only to the lower spine. Shelf presentation is excellent, the spine only lightly and uniformly toned, retaining strong red hue. 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 and comparatively esoteric 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.a, Woods/ICS A44(b.1). Langworth p.193. Item #007824

Price: $1,900.00

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