By Winston S. Churchill
First published in 1950 by Cassell and Company Ltd., London
"We shall only save ourselves from the perils which draw near(Speech of 7 May 1948 to the Congress of Europe)
by forgetting the hatreds of the past, by letting national rancours and revenges die,
by progressively effacing frontiers and barriers which aggravate and congeal our divisions,
and by rejoicing together in that glorious treasure
of literature, of romance, of ethics, of thought and toleration...
which is the true inheritance of Europe."
This is the second of Churchill's five postwar speech volumes. Europe Unite includes 52 speeches spanning January 1947 to December 1948. The book certainly reflects Churchill's position as Leader of the Opposition, and many of the speeches contain both domestic and foreign policy indictments of Clement Atlee's Labour Government, which had replaced Churchill in 1945. Nonetheless, the title is rooted in Churchill's 7 May 1948 speech to the Congress of Europe.
Churchill was an early, ardent, and vital advocate of pan-European integration. This and earlier speeches lent impetus to what would eventually become the European Union. As ardent an advocate as Churchill was of Britain, and though his rhetoric and sentiments could ascend inspiring heights, Churchill had been a soldier, a war leader, a politician and statesman and as such, could not fail to be a realist. Postwar Britain was diminished economically, militarily, and territorially. As Randolph Churchill said in his introduction to the book, Britain's "place in the world can only be regained" in part by "assumption by Britain of a leading role in promoting the unity of Europe."
Nonetheless, Churchill was always able to interweave the compelling rhetorical glow of shining purpose with the duller impetus of practical necessity. He opened his speech to the Congress of Europe by pronouncing that "Since I spoke on this subject at Zurich in 1946... events have carried our affairs beyond our expectations. The cause was obviously either vital or merely academic. If it was academic, it would wither by the wayside; but if it was the vital need of Europe and the world in this dark hour, then the spark would start a fire which would glow brighter and stronger in the heads and the minds of men and women in many lands. This is what has actually happened."
The movement toward European integration would continue to prevail. So would Churchill. During the election of February 1950 - the month this book was published - Churchill polled more than 37,000 votes, double that of his challenger. Labour's majority was reduced to six, and when Atlee called another election in 1951 the Conservatives won 321 seats to Labour’s 295, returning Churchill to Downing Street.
Even though they come at the waning of Churchill's remarkable career and life, the five postwar speech volumes remain worthy of both readers and collectors, marrying a singularly experienced voice to exceptional times.
By the time Churchill's first postwar speeches volume was published, his oratorical prowess was unrivaled in public life. Churchill had a remarkable full half century of vigorous public speaking to his credit. His mastery of words was further bolstered by having already published 34 volumes of book-length works. Before his final volume of postwar speeches was published, he would be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, both for his books and "for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values" (The Nobel Prize in Literature, 1953).
The political experience that underpinned Churchill's postwar oratory was likewise unrivaled. Member of Parliament for nearly half a century, he had already passed through two world wars in positions of high authority, heading the British government for five years during the Second World War. He would serve as Prime Minister for the second and final time between 1951 and 1955, making six consecutive decades during which Churchill had served in the British Cabinet.
The times in which Churchill made these speeches were no less formidable than the skills and experience he brought to bear. Churchill's five post-WWII speech volumes span the period from Demobilization in late 1945, when Churchill was Leader of the Opposition, through his second Premiership, into a time when Churchill passes "into a living national memorial" of the time he has lived and the Nation, Empire, and free world he has served. The events encompassed by these years are in many ways no less dramatic than those of the war years - the unraveling of the British Empire, the post-war recovery, the onset of the Cold War, Soviet acquisition of the atomic bomb, development of the hydrogen bomb, both Cold and proxy war between the Western and communist powers, and the beginning of the space age.
Churchill's son, Randolph, had served as compiler for Churchill's final pre-WWII and first WWII speech volumes, Arms and the Covenant and Into Battle. During Randolph's wartime service, the balance of Churchill's other six war speech volumes were compiled by Charles Eade, Editor of the Sunday Dispatch. By 1948 Randolph was able to resume his previous responsibility, serving as Editor for all five of Churchill's postwar speech volumes.
These postwar speech volumes are much scarcer than Churchill’s War Speeches volumes; each of these five books had only a single printing. The final volume, The Unwritten Alliance, is the last book of Churchill's speeches published in his lifetime, and was issued only in Britain with no U.S. edition.
The five British first editions of the postwar speeches are uniform in height and were issued in striking black dust jackets with a border along the top and bottom of the jacket featuring a repeating white oak leaf design. The background color for the oak leaf border and the spine and front cover print color vary with each volume. The dust jacket rear faces and flaps are white, printed black. The bindings are bound in a simple, uniform style, but vary in cloth color.
The British first edition of Europe Unite is bound in green cloth stamped gilt on the spine. The dust jacket features a complementary green background for the oak leaf border and is printed in yellow and black. Publication was 3 February 1950, with a single printing of 12,000 copies. Churchill Bibliographer Ronald Cohen notes that the text is "replete with errors of spelling, line repetition and reversal, and punctuation" but that all except five of the original errors were corrected in the re-setting of type for the Collected Works of Sir Winston Churchill published in 1974.
The U.S. first edition was issued using British sheets, but is considerably different, bound in a blue-green cloth with dark green and black spine decoration and print. The dust jacket is printed black, green, and gray on white paper, with a green background on the spine and front face. A major weakness of this attractive U.S. edition is the exceptional vulnerability of the blue-green binding and green dust jacket to fading. Consequently, copies are most often found in flawed condition.
The U.S. editions of Churchill's postwar speeches were produced in far fewer numbers than the British editions - in this case just 2,500 copies for the U.S. edition as opposed to 12,000 copies for the British edition.
A full set of U.S. postwar speeches comprises only four volumes, as the fifth and final volume, The Unwritten Alliance, had no U.S. edition. Like their British counterparts, the four U.S. first editions are uniform in height with varying binding colors. Unlike their British counterparts, there is not a consistent binding design, with decorative elements to the binding spines of the final three volumes not present on the first volume, The Sinews of Peace. The U.S. edition dust jackets also vary considerably. The first two volumes - The Sinews of Peace and Europe Unite - have the same dust jacket design, differentiated only by background color. The final two U.S. dust jackets - those for In the Balance and Stemming the Tide - each have a unique design.
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