(Cohen A92) (Woods A38)
The subject for this book was proposed by Churchill to Thornton Butterworth, his English publisher, on March 21st, 1931. The author offered a package of seven “very good speeches…I have taken much more trouble with them than any book.” His object, of course, was to gain support for his campaign against the India Bill, over which he had broken with his party leadership, believing these relatively modest reforms would lead to the loss of India to the Empire. Thornton Butterworth responded enthusiastically, saying he agreed with Churchill’s cause. However, he was possibly more interested in cementing a relationship that had only just survived Churchill’s threat to drop Thornton Butterworth in a dispute about royalties for The World Crisis. To the initial seven speeches, Churchill added three earlier addresses and a pithy introduction, and India was published in cloth and softcover two months later.
Eminently a product of its time, India was fast overtaken by what Churchill called the “Gathering Storm” of World War II. Although he usually favored reissues of his earlier books, he saw no reason to revive India. After all, that cause had been lost when the India Bill had passed Parliament in 1935. Churchill even sent Gandhi his best wishes for success, and lent tacit approval to Attlee’s plan to grant India Dominion status (thus de facto independence) in 1948. What he did not approve of was the sudden rush to quit India under Attlee’s Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten, who arbitrarily moved Britain’s departure date up to August 1947. British authority thus ended before boundaries could be worked out between Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs and a vast shift of population occurred, amid bloody attacks by the various sides against each other. Later, Churchill would exclaim to Mountbatten, “What you did in India was like striking me across the face with a riding crop.”
India remained a forgotten book, inaccessible to many, an unfortunate loss for students of rhetoric and political science. In 1990, I was able to publish a new American Edition with an introduction by Manfred Weidhorn, excerpts of which form our reviewer’s notes for this title.
-Richard M. Langworth
From the Reviews
“Setting aside the merits of the substance of these speeches, one must admit that as rhetorical exercises they are impressive. They were made when Churchill was at the height of his oratorical powers and one of the best speakers in the House of Commons. While not always on a level with some of the masterpieces of other phases of his career, they have their moments. There are numerous deft touches of irony and sarcasm, as when he refers to himself and his followers with a climactic, appropriate word: “A few die-hards and reactionaries, and other untouchables.” And, on Gandhi: “…a seditious Middle Temple lawyer of the type well-known in the East, now posing as a fakir, striding half naked up the steps of the Viceregal palace to parley on equal terms with the representative of the King-Emperor.”
“Stanley Baldwin has much to answer for at the bar of history, but in this matter he was right. While Churchill carried on about how the facts were against Indian independence, Baldwin likewise urged people to face up to the truth. The principal fact “today,” he concluded, was that “the unchanging East has changed.” With that one nugget, the usually pedestrian Baldwin shoots the usually eloquent Churchill, with his romantic, Victorian, imperial rhetoric, right out of the water.
“Of course some of Churchill’s prophecies were not so erratic. What would happen to the rest of the British Empire, he asked rhetorically, if it lost its centerpiece? That loss, he went on, “would mark and consummate the downfall of the British Empire….[It would be] final and fatal [and] reduce us to the scale of a minor Power.” He was also right in warning about sectarian strife and Hindu domination in the wake of the British departure; in fact, several million lives were lost in fighting between Hindus and Moslems during the weeks and months following independence. The Sikhs even today resort to violence against what they consider Hindu oppression. He warned also about balkanization of the sub-continent masquerading as a nation; in fact, Moslem Pakistan broke away from a mainly Hindu India only to have Bangladesh in turn break away from it, and tensions and clashes have long reigned in places like Kashmir.
“Most Pakistanis and Indians, would, of course, say that all this was the price necessary for independence and dignity and that it was well worth paying. A Tory in 1776 might have reasonably argued that Britain’s holding on to the American colonies would spare them the fate of undergoing either balkanization or a brutal civil war, and he would have been correct. Yet how many Americans wish to undo the Revolution for that reason?
“We would like genius to be discerning and moderate, to be a little bit more like the rest of us. Few geniuses have been so. Churchill had the vices of his virtues. In judging him we err by unconsciously depending on the wisdom of hindsight. No one could tell at the time how the campaigns of 1931 and 1940 would turn out. If responsible voices across the political spectrum in 1931 told Churchill that the imperial age in India was over, just as many responsible voices in 1940 said that Hitler could not be beaten and should be negotiated with. If Churchill had been amenable to prudence in 1931, he would have spared everyone embarrassment, but that same prudence would have dictated in 1940 negotiations with Hitler. Only the pugnacious mule of 1931 could see his way through the impossibilities of 1940. A more civilized, common-sensical soul like Halifax did negotiate with Gandhi. And, had Halifax rather than Churchill been made Prime Minister on 10 May 1940, he would have certainly negotiated with Hitler.
“Genius exacts its high price. If we like the way 1940 turned out, we have to comprehend 1931.”
-Manfred Weidhorn, Yeshiva University (in the Foreword to the First American Edition)
Softbound copies on the market today outnumber hardbound copies by at least twenty to one, which offers a clue as to their original press runs. The books were printed on pulpy paper, and it is rare to encounter a copy entirely spot-free.
Jacketed hardbacks are extremely rare. Such a copy, with the book underneath in pristine condition, commands very high prices. Unjacketed hardbound copies are not cheap either, but are worth much less in worn condition. Softbound first impressions in excellent condition sell for less, and half as much as hardbacks. Green wrapper second impressions are relative bargains. Any of the Variants mentioned below are extremely rare and would command a towering premium.
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Cohen A92.1 / Woods A38
Publisher: Thornton Butterworth Ltd., London 1931
Hardbound: Orange cloth blocked black with INDIA and CHURCHILL on front cover and spine, publisher’s logo debossed on lower right corner of cover, and publisher’s imprint on spine bottom. Softbound: Orange paper printed black with SPEECHES BY, THE RT. HON. WINSTON S. and 1’- NET added to front face, INDIA – CHURCHILL and the price (two times) on spine. Inside wrappers are blank; back wrapper contains adverts for My Early Life, the Abridged World Crisis and The Aftermath. Both versions 8vo, 144 pages numbered (1) through (144). Pages (142-44) contain membership information on the Indian Empire Society. Published 27 May 1931 at 1s. (25¢) for the softbound version and 2s. (50¢) for the hardback.
Two impressions occurred, each issued both hardbound and softbound, the second impression almost immediately after the first—both are dated May 1931. The second softbound impression was identical to the first softbound except for dark green instead of orange wrappers, although there are Variants (see below).
Hardbound: Bindings are known with two spine variations, one with INDIA, CHURCHILL and THORNTON BUTTERWORTH blocked horizontally, another with INDIA – CHURCHILL (only) blocked vertically down the spine in much larger typeface. The latter is probably the second state binding, because all hardbound second impressions encountered have similar spine lettering. There are no other differences.
Softbound: Copies of the first impression have been spotted in green wrappers and copies of the second impression in orange wrappers, though these are rare. Woods also reports a first impression with the price of 2/6 on its cover, which seems odd, since the hardback itself only cost 2 shillings; the 2/6 variant may have been a prototype copy.
The dust jacket for hardbound copies is printed black on orange paper and looks like the softbound wrapper, except that it carries the price “2/- net”. The front flap promotes the book, the back flap the 1911-1914, 1915 and 1916-1918 volumes of The World Crisis.
First American Edition
Cohen A92.2; not in Woods
Publisher: Dragonwyck Publishing Inc., Hopkinton N.H. 1990
Orange cloth blocked black with INDIA and CHURCHILL on front cover and spine, publisher’s logo debossed on lower right corner of cover, back cover and bottom of spine, two large blind rules across covers and spine. 8vo, 188 pages numbered as follows: front matter (i) through xl; replica wrapper (xli-xlii); text (1-144); replica wrapper (146-7).
Quantities and Impressions
2000 copies were published at $35 in May 1990, including 100 copies of the limited edition at $100 (see below).
A leatherbound limited edition of 100 was published in orange leather blocked gilt in all places blocked black or blind on the standard edition, all edges gilt, with black endpapers and a gold satin page marker.
The dust jacket, printed orange and black on white coated stock and unique to this edition, was designed by Charlotte Thiebault. The front face groups portraits of Churchill, Gandhi, Nehru, Britannia, and Indian Rajah and George V around the author’s name, title, new subtitle (“Defending The Jewel In The Crown”) and cover blurb (“His Rare Book—Out Of Print For 60 Years”). The front flap describes the book, the back flap Churchill and Weidhorn; the back face contains quotes from the text and comments by Robert Pilpel “On Reading Churchill.”
The intent was to publish enough copies to keep this volume in print a long time, but a fire in 2003 destroyed the stock and it has now become scarce. In 1997 it was chosen as the book discussion topic for the International Churchill Conference in Toronto.
The standard edition is beginning to command increasingly high prices. Few limited editions have been sold but are certainly desirable for their scarcity value.
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