CHURCHILL OUT OF HIBERNATION, WEEK 38
This week, we pause in our chronological march through Winston Churchill’s book-length works for a look-back in celebration of THE RIVER WAR, Churchill’s second book, returning to print, unabridged, for the first time since its 1899 publication.
Way back in June of last year, Week 5 of “Churchill Out of Hibernation,” we wrote about The River War, in a post that you can (re-)read, if you like, by clicking HERE. The gist was basically this: Mere months after the 1898 publication of Churchill’s very first book, The Story of the Malakand Field Force, Winston Churchill returned to a battlefield, this time in Egypt, writing as a war correspondent for The Morning Post, while attached (over the objections of General Kitchener himself) to the 21st Lancers as a supernumerary lieutenant.
The book that resulted was The River War: An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan, a masterpiece of war reportage, published on November 6, 1899. A lavishly illustrated, two-volume tome, The River War was almost immediately abridged by Churchill for a single-volume edition published in 1902 with a new Preface by the author and elisions in the text that softened somewhat (and, in Kitchener’s case, eliminated altogether) Churchill’s criticisms of his military superiors. All subsequent editions, in both cloth and paperback, have been reprints of this abridgement.
To read the two-volume River War in its entirety, we wrote in June, “you almost have to come to Chartwell Booksellers.” Well, that is still true, but the details have changed wondrously. After a 31-year journey of scholarship and judicious de-editing by the historian James Muller, a complete, unabridged, scrupulously annotated new edition of The River War will be published this week in two volumes, as it originally appeared over 120 years ago, with a posthumous new introduction from Churchill’s youngest daughter, the late-Lady Mary Soames.
This is truly joyous news, especially in the midst of our still trying pandemic moment.
We invite you to order your copy by clicking HERE.
And, we wish you healthy, safe reading.