FRONTIERS AND WARS
(Cohen A274) (ICS A142/1)
Although this work was published during Churchill’s lifetime, he had nothing to do with its preparation and it does not contain new material. It is an extraction of his first four war books, the Malakand, River War, Ladysmith and Hamilton, compiled in a single volume by Eyre and Spottiswoode, publishers of Churchill’s own abridged River War since 1933. In the jacket blurb for this work, E&S are careful to note that The River War is still available (from them), though the other three works have “been out of print since before the first World War.”
The abridging is ruthless but effective. What remains are the backgrounds to the wars and the chief features of them, culled and packaged to fit a volume of fewer than 600 pages. As such it constitutes a new text, which most Churchill collectors are anxious to own. As a bonus, the book is generously illustrated with the main characters in the stories, along with contemporary drawings and photographs of famous places and things: the Malakand Field Force on the march, the Charge of the 21st Lancers at Omdurman, Boer fighters in the field, an armored train “similar to the one on which Churchill was captured.” The book is tall and elegantly produced, with fine large type and ample margins. Frontiers and Wars is the ideal introduction to Churchill as the Victorian war historian, and I often recommend it to readers who have never before dipped into this portion of the canon. Most of them soon end up reading the original texts—which is all to the good.
-Richard M. Langworth
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Cohen A274.1 / ICS A142/1a
Publisher: Eyre & Spottiswoode, London, 1962
Bluish-grey cloth blocked gilt on spine with author’s name, title (on maroon panel) and “E&S” at the foot. 8vo, 568 pages numbered (1)-(568) plus frontispiece and 15 pages of illustrations on coated stock, interspersed throughout. Dust jackets are printed black, red and olive on coated white paper and illustrated with a silhouetted black and white photo of our author (from frontispiece) on the front face and an illustration of the charge at Omdurman on the back face, wrapping around the spine. Published at 42s ($5.88); two impressions. Identifying first editions: no mention of a second impression on verso of title page.
Although plenty of copies are around, fine ones are scarce; and fine dust jackets scarcer, as they are prone to chipping and tearing.
Cohen A274.2 / ICS A142/1b
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., New York, 1962
Bound in black cloth blocked gold and red on spine with sheets supplied by the English printers. Pagination identical to the First Edition. Dust jacket printed red and black on white paper and illustrated only with a subaltern’s helmet on front face and spine; one impression, no variants. Published at $8.75.
Not the true first, this issue tends to cost less than the English Edition, although it is much scarcer.
First Paperback Edition
Cohen A274.4 / ICS A142/1c
Publisher: Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, Mdslx., 1972
A thick, 608-page paperback with 16 pages of illustrations on coated paper, this reset work was published to coincide with the release of the Columbia Pictures film “Young Winston,” and contains the Omdurman scene from that film on its wrappers. Published at 60p ($1.68).
Second American Issue
Cohen A274.5 / ICS A142/1d
Publisher: Konecky and Konecky, New York, c.1990
Offprinted from the first American issue, produced for the bargain books counters.
Extracted Work: London to Ladysmith and Ian Hamilton’s March
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., New York, [n.d.]
An “abridgement of the abridgement,” this 214-page, 5 1/4 x 8″ paperback is in the publisher’s “Harvest Book” series, numbered “HB 98.” Published at $1.75, it contains no date. The text covers the Boer War sections of Frontiers and Wars but leaves out the illustrations. The cover is printed black with an illustration by John Sposato: British colonial troops firing a cannon.
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