Item #007844 India. Winston S. Churchill.
India
India
India
India

India

London: Thornton Butterworth Limited, 1931. First edition, second printing. Hardcover. This is the first edition, second and final printing, in the quite scarce hardcover binding. India is a collection of ten Churchill speeches as part of his campaign against the India Bill, over which he broke with his party’s leadership. The first edition is most commonly found in orange paper wraps. A much scarcer version of the first edition was issued in a cased (hardcover) binding, featuring a bright orange coarse cloth. A second printing of the first edition was issued in the same month as the first printing. According to Churchill bibliographer Ronald Cohen: "Few cased copies of the second printing are known."

Here is one of those very few - a hardcover first edition, second printing. This copy is complete and unrestored, though aesthetically compromised – and priced accordingly. This copy is ex-library evidenced by the printed plate of Northern Ireland’s “Tyrone County Library” affixed to the front pastedown above a small card pocket, a Tyrone County Library sticker on the facing front free endpaper recto, oval Tyrone County Library stamps on the title and final pages, and Library stock stamp on the copyright page hand-dated “8/4/32”. The number “954” – the same as written on the copyright page – is written in white on the lower spine. An adhesive fragment, ostensibly from a library sticker, is on the lower front cover. The distinctive orange cloth binding shows a slight forward lean, overall soiling, and fraying to the spine ends, corners, and at points along the joints. The contents appear free of spotting, clean internally (apart from the ex-library markings), the text block edges soiled.

India is, in many ways, an archetypal work of Churchill’s “wilderness years” in the 1930s, which saw him out of power and out of favor, unable to leverage the policies to which he nonetheless applied himself with characteristic vigor and eloquence. Churchill spent formative time as a young 19th century cavalry officer fighting on the northwest Indian frontier, about which he would write his first published book. He certainly did not adopt an early progressive attitude toward relinquishing control over the crown jewel of Britain's colonial empire. Nonetheless, it is instructive to remember that many of Churchill's dire warnings about Indian independence proved prophetic. Churchill had warned that too swift a British withdrawal from India would lead to bloody civil war and sectarian strife between Hindus and Muslims, Hindu domination, and destabilizing political balkanization of the subcontinent. All these predictions came to pass and, to a considerable extent, persist today.

Nonetheless, relinquishing India seemed more than simply a matter of policy. There was perhaps more than just characteristic wartime defiance in his 10 November 1942 utterance, “We have not entered this war for profit or expansion…Let me, however, make this clear… I have not become the King’s First Minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire. For that task, if ever it were prescribed, someone else would have to be found.” Someone else was found; Churchill’s wartime premiership fell to Labour in the July 1945 General Election, relegating Churchill to Leader of the Opposition. In that capacity Churchill addressed the House of Commons on 6 March 1947 regarding the Indian Independence Bill of Prime Minister Clement Attlee’s Government: “It is with deep grief I watch the clattering down of the British Empire, with all its glories and all the services it has rendered to mankind… at least, let us not add – by shameful flight, by a premature, hurried scuttle… to the pangs of sorrow so many of us feel, the taint and smear of shame.” On 15 August 1947 the Indian Independence Bill took effect, creating the independent nations of India and Pakistan and birthing the world’s most populous democracy in what was arguably the largest single act of political liberation in history. Independence also unfettered religious and communal strife that has lethally festered and flared ever since, claiming Gandhi himself in January 1948.

Reference: Cohen A92.1.d, Woods/ICS A38(a), Langworth p.150. Item #007844

Price: $600.00

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