THE WAR SPEECHES (“DEFINITIVE EDITION”)
(Cohen A263) (Woods A136)
Churchill’s return to the Premiership re-concentrated attention on him wonderfully, renewing interest in his war speeches. The original volumes were all out of print by 1952, having been produced to cheap standards owing to wartime shortages and restrictions. Cassell decided to reissue the war speeches in a new, expansive, and comprehensive edition of three tall, elegant volumes printed in large type with generous margins on quality stock.
Collectors often ask whether this edition contains something different from the seven original war speeches. The answer is yes. Charles Eade, who had edited all the war volumes save Into Battle, eliminated quite a number of the original speeches he considered peripheral, and retitled many others. He also replaced the chronological dates with brief notes where necessary, to form transitions or introductions to various sections. More important is that Eade added five new entries, establishing a new text. Added in Volume I were “Our Consciences are at Rest” (Sep 3, 39), “The News is Very Bad” (June 17, 40). Added in Volume III were “The Beast is Cornered” (Message to Danish Resistance Groups Jan 1, 45), “Warships for Russia” (June 5, 45), “A Threat to Freedom” (June 21, 45).
But the best reason to acquire this new edition is that it provides an index—never present in the original volumes—which makes it the most readable and useful version of the war speeches.
-Richard M. Langworth
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Cohen A263.1 / ICS A136a
Publisher: Cassell and Co. Ltd., London, 1951-52
Three volumes 8vo, black cloth blocked gilt on spine: author’s name, “WAR | SPEECHES | 1939- 45 | [one to three stars] | COMPILED BY | CHARLES EADE” at the top, “CASSELL” at the foot. and black. Title page printed two-colour. Page edges unstained, no head or foot bands. Published 1951 (Vol. I) and 1952 (Vols. II and III) at 21s. ($2.94) per volume, 63s ($8.82) the set. Later priced at 70s ($9.80), revised to £3.75 ($10.50) post-1971.
Vol. I: 500 pages numbered (i)-(xvi) and 1-(484). Vol. II: 578 pages numbered (i)- (xvi) and 1-560. Vol. III: 596 pages numbered (i)-(xvi), 1-578 (+2). On page (vii) of each volume is a subtitle: Vol. I: “From the Rise of Hitler to the Invasion of Russia, June 22, 1941”; Vol. II: “June 25, 1941 – September 6, 1943”; Vol. III: “September 11, 1943 – August 16, 1945”.
Note: “Man-Power and Woman-Power” was delivered 2Dec41, not December 10th as stated in Vol. II, page xi.
Editions, Impressions, and Quantities
The first impression numbered 4700 sets. Each volume had a second impression (identified as “edition” on verso of title page): respectively these were March 1963, February 1965 and July 1964. Volume I only had a third impression (“edition”) in September 1967.
Identifying first editions: Verso of title page reads “THIS EDITION FIRST PUBLISHED 1951 [or “1952” on Vols. II and III], with no mention of later “editions.”
Jackets are printed black and rose on buff paper. The back flap of first impression jackets advertises The Sinews of Peace, Europe Unite, and In the Balance; the back face advertises Vols. I-V of The Second World War. There is no variation between jackets for the three volumes. Later impression jackets vary, notably by identifying the author as “Sir Winston S. Churchill.”
Comments and Appraisal
This handsome trio is easily the most luxurious and durable rendering of the War Speeches and possesses the huge advantage of an index. It adds some new material but, unfortunately, excises much more that appeared in the original volumes; therefore, the fastidious collector requires both.
Cohen A263.2 / ICS A136b
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston
Three volumes 8vo, half black cloth and red buckram, blocked gilt on spine with decorative panels and more elaborate titles: “THE | WAR | SPEECHES | OF THE | RT HON | WINSTON S. | CHURCHILL” plus boxes for Eade’s name, volume number and publisher. Title page printed two-color. Top page edges stained dark yellow, cloth head and foot bands. Published 1953 in a plain navy leatherette box, priced $25 the set.
For this issue, only 500 sheets were exported from England to Houghton Mifflin, who changed only the title page and verso. American publishers of the individual speech volumes, Putnam, Little Brown and Simon and Schuster, are acknowledged on the verso. Dust jackets are printed black and light blue on white coated stock; around the spine is wrapped a reproduction from Churchill’s hand-corrected typescript of the first Secret Session speech, photographically reproduced in Volume I. The publisher adopted a particularly ugly binding and a lurid jacket design, and the gilt spine blocking is almost always dull; but none of this matters because of the extreme rarity. There are plenty of collectors who strive to acquire both the British and American issues of everything Churchill wrote.
Great War Speeches (Abridged)
Cohen A63.3 / ICS A136ca
Publisher: Corgi Books: London, 1957
A paperback abridgment from the Definitive Edition, issued as a “Corgi Giant” paperback at 3s 6d. (49¢). At least seven impressions: 1957-58-59 (384 pp.); 1963-65- 65 (288 pp.); 1978 (352 pp.).
Great War Speeches (Abridged)
Cohen A263.4 / ICS A136cb
Publisher: Transworld Paperbacks: New York, 1959
The American version of the above had at least four impressions through 1963.
Cohen A263.6 / ICS A136d
Publisher: Purnell & Sons Ltd., London, c. 1970 (n.d.)
Three volumes Offprinted from the Cassell edition (“in Association with Cassell”), this work was trimmed to 5 5/8 x 8 5/8″ and bound in blue leatherette blocked silvery-gilt, carrying the name PURNELL/CASSELL at the foot of the spine. The title pages were printed black only. The type size shrank very slightly, but trimming reduced the former generous margins. The indexes are retained in each volume.
The set was advertised by mail order as an “exclusive offer for readers of Purnell’s history of the Second World War,” who were offered the volumes at 3gns. ($8.80) each, 9gns. ($26.40) the set. Purnell must have sold plenty of copies, because they are still easily found. Most sets remain in nice condition although the spines are inclined to discoloration.
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