London: Cassell and Company Ltd., 1951. British first edition, second printing. Hardcover. This copy of the British first edition, second printing, of the fourth volume of Winston S. Churchill’s war memoirs is inscribed and dated by Churchill. The inscription, inked in blue in three lines on the half-title, reads “Inscribed by | Winston S. Churchill | 1953”. An autograph signed letter from a previous owner dated “12th August 1978” laid into the volume states: “To whom it may concern. This hardback book the second world war “the Second World War the Hinge of Fate” was signed by Sir Winston Churchill at a luncheon in London in 1953 and kept by me as a prized possession with my other war time books.”
This second printing of October 1951 (incorrectly noted as “Second Edition” on the title page verso) followed the first printing of July 1951. Of note, it was published the very same month Churchill returned to 10 Downing Street to begin his second and final premiership after the return of his Conservative Party to parliamentary majority in the 25 October 1951 General Election.
Condition of this inscribed copy is good, sound and complete but certainly showing some typical condition issues. Among the most heralded publications of the twentieth century, Churchill’s war memoirs were published in six volumes between 1948 and 1954. They were both widely read and not especially durable. 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, and the red-stained top edges are most often severely faded. Hence many copies show age and wear. This copy is no exception. The black cloth binding is square and unfaded, with bright spine gilt, but nonetheless shows some shelf wear to extremities, some white speckling to the rear cover, and a little overall scuffing. The contents are mildly shaken but still firmly attached to the text block; the endpaper gutters both have cosmetic splits, exposing the intact mull beneath without affecting binding integrity. The contents are respectably clean and complete, though imperfect. We note modest spotting, primarily confined to the prelims and page edges, mild overall age age-toning, and almost entirely faded topstain. Churchill’s inscription is distinct, clear and unfaded, though shaky at points, consonant with both the general infirmities of advancing age and the stroke he suffered in June 1953, following previous cerebrovascular episodes.
This inscribed copy came to us via a retired U.S. Navy Captain, stepson to a Second World War veteran, to whom this book belonged before his death. Of his stepfather, the stepson informed us: "He was U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, and aircrew in the Flying fortress, and stationed in the U.K. from 1944-1945. A good man. Quiet. Reserved. A proud WWII vet, very fond of the U.K... his Churchill books were gifts to him from his daughter."
The Hinge of Fate, the fourth volume of Churchill's six-volume war memoirs, focuses on the first half of 1942, describing, in Churchill's own words, "the turning-point of the Second World War. The entry of the United States into the struggle... had made it certain that the cause of Freedom would not be cast away. But between survival and victory there are many stages. Nearly two years of intense and bloody fighting lay before us all... The American Armies had to mature and their vast construction of shipping to become effective before the full power of the Great Republic would be hurled into the struggle... Hitler had still to pay the full penalty of his fatal error in trying to conquer Russia... He had still to squander the immense remaining strength of Germany... leaders of Japan were already conscious that their onslaught had passed its zenith. Together, soon Great Britain and the United States would have the mastery of the Oceans and the Air. The hinge had turned." (HoF, pp.742-3)
Reference: Cohen A240.4(IV).b, Woods/ICS A123(ba), Langworth p.264. Item #007873