THE END OF THE BEGINNING
(Cohen A183) (Woods A94)
The nadir of Churchill’s war is captured in this collection of speeches, broadcasts, and messages for January through December 1942. The onslaught of Japan; the quick loss of Malaya, Rangoon, Singapore and two capital ships; defeats in Africa, where Rommel sent his motorized cadres deep into Libya and threatened Egypt; the continued U-boat threat to Britain’s North Atlantic lifeline; and the German siege of major Russian cities all tried Churchill’s courage and Britain’s faith. Over twenty pages of The End of the Beginning comprise the Prime Minister’s response to a no-confidence motion in the House.
“All will come right,” Churchill said again and again, and the book ends on a tide of hope, captured in the speech at the Lord Mayor’s Day luncheon in London on November 9th 1942, with the Battle of Alamein now history:
“I have never promised anything but blood, tears, toil and sweat. Now, however, we have a new experience. We have victory—a remarkable and definite victory. The bright gleam has caught the helmets of our soldiers, and warmed and cheered all our hearts….Rommel’s army has been defeated. It has been routed. It has been very largely destroyed as a fighting force….The Germans have received back again that measure of fire and steel which they have so often meted out to others. Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. Henceforth Hitler’s Nazis will meet equally well armed, and perhaps better armed troops. Henceforth they will have to face in many theatres of war that superiority in the air which they have so often used without mercy against others of which they boasted all round the world and which they intended to use as instrument for convincing all other peoples that all resistance to them was useless.”
Sombre it may be, but, like all Churchill’s books, it is not without moments of levity. On one of the last pages, an oft-repeated Churchill quip is printed. A Member of Parliament had asked whether the titles “Minister of Defence” and “Secretary of State for War” were logical, whether they shouldn’t be changed to “Minister for War” and “Secretary of State for the Army.”
Churchill responded: “Sir, we must beware of needless innovation, especially when guided by logic.”
-Richard M. Langworth
From the Reviews
“My first impression is of this great man’s astonishing vitality. I fancy this quality is less rare among politicians here than in England. It is not always a desirable quality: unless yoked with intelligence, it can be as much a nuisance as a tornado: unless coupled with honesty, it can be a willful menace. In Mr. Churchill you have it combined with exceptional intelligence, honesty so great that he has suffered political exile and the contemptuous condescension of men infinitely his inferiors, and a gift for direct speech unequalled in our time: and the consequence is a great statesman.
“The great speeches in this book are familiar. To reread them is to be struck again by the exactness of Mr. Churchill’s thought, his weighed use of words, the fine eloquence of his more vivid passages, and his uncanny skill in a certain half-savage, half-playful bantering. How good he is in his comments on ‘that bad man’s’ oratory in last October. ‘The most striking and curious part of Hitler’s speech was his complaint that no one pays sufficient attention to his victories. Look at all the victories I have won, he exclaims in effect. Look at all the countries I have invaded and struck down. Look at the thousands of kilometers that I have advanced into the lands of other people. Look at the booty I have gathered, and all the men I have killed and captured. Contrast these exploits with the performances of the Allies. Why are they not downhearted and dismayed? How do they dare to keep up their spirits in the face of my great successes and their many misfortunes?’ And a little after comes the bold and prophetic sentence, ‘He sees with chagrin and amazement that our defeats are but stepping-stones to victory, and that his victories are only the stepping-stones to ruin.’”
-R. Ellis Roberts, Saturday Review of Literature, August 28, 1943
A companion to the previous war speech volumes, this is an important chronicle of the war and the bleakest period for the Coalition Government, including particularly Churchill’s masterly twenty-one page defense of his Government in the vote of confidence debate (July 1942), which he eventually won by 475 votes to 25.
Although this speech volume is easy to find in ordinary condition, fine, unspotted, jacketed first editions have become scarce and will continue to rise in price rapidly.
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Cohen A183.1 / ICS A94a
Publisher: Cassell and Company Ltd., London, 1943
Light blue cloth blocked gilt with title, author’s name (with titles C.H., M.P.) and CASSELL on spine. 8vo, 272 pages numbered (i) -xiv and 1-258, with frontispiece (Walter Stoneman photo of the author) and four internal photographs on two coated paper leaves inserted between pages 66-67 and 162-63. Published 29 July 1943 at 11s. 6d. ($2.30)—not 12s. 6d. as per Woods.
Impressions and Quantities
Four impressions (incorrectly termed “Editions” in the volumes). Woods records three impressions, 16,000 of the first and 16,500 reprints, but his dates are not confirmed by the volumes.
Identifying first editions: title page verso contains the line, “First Published..1943” with no reprints indicated, and the code “F.543” (printed in May).
A minority of copies, including some first editions, were bound in smooth, medium blue cloth. Publisher’s presentation copies were bound in full black pebble grain morocco.
In December 1943, some second impressions were bound in navy half morocco and blue cloth, top edges gilt for corporate presentation. Many bear a gift bookplate from the General Fire Appliance Company Ltd., London.
Jackets are printed black and yellow fading into mauve on white paper. First impression jackets advertise Into Battle (“Ninth Edition”) and The Unrelenting Struggle (“Second Edition”) on front flap; by the third impression, jackets advertised the “Tenth” and “Third Editions” respectively. The rear flap advertises the BBC (“BRITAIN CALLS THE WORLD”), the back face contains notes about this volume. Since later jackets often find their way onto first editions, buyers of firsts should be certain the jacket is correct.
Cohen A183.2 / ICS A94b
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 1943
Red cloth blocked gilt and black. Title and author’s name separated by thick rule blocked gilt on black inside thin gilt frame on top board and spine. Also on spine are wavy lines top and bottom and publisher’s name, all gilt. 8vo, 336 pages numbered (i) -(xiv) and (1)-322. Published 19 August 1943 at $3.50.
Impressions and Quantities
The first impression (6000 copies) was the same size (5 3/4 x 8 3/4″) as the American Unrelenting Struggle, but with wartime restrictions, later impressions were trimmed (5 5/8 x 8 1/4″) to save paper. There were six later impressions, all in 1943: August (1000 and 1000); September (2000 and 1000) October (1000) and December (1000).
Identifying first editions: title page verso contains the line FIRST EDITION with no reprints listed.
Jackets are printed black and red on white stock with a silhouetted photograph of Churchill demonstrating his “Siren Suit” (taken at the White House). All jackets contain a book blurb on the front flap, Unrelenting Struggle blurb on back flap, and praise of Churchill by Raymond Gram Swing on the back face. Later impression jackets are of course smaller, and front flaps indicate the impression, e.g. FIFTH PRINTING.
Uniformly and attractively bound with the Little Brown Unrelenting Struggle, this edition was reset but the contents were not altered; there is no frontispiece nor internal illustrations.
First editions are very scarce. Reprints, on the other hand, are in reasonably good supply and sell for less than one-fourth as much.
Cohen A183.3 / ICS A94c
Publisher: McClelland and Stewart Ltd., Toronto, 1943
An offprint from the Little, Brown American Edition, the Canadian Issue differs only in detail: the McClelland and Stewart name in place of Little, Brown on the spine and title page, no price on jacket flap, and McCLELLAND | AND STEWART printed black on a red panel on the jacket spine. The binding is coarser and lighter red than the American, and the gilding is duller. One impression known.
Cohen A183.4 / ICS A94d
Publisher: Cassell and Company Ltd., Melbourne, 1943
Bound in rough red cloth blocked black on spine with more words than the English Edition: title, “Speeches | by the | Right Hon. WINSTON S. | CHURCHILL | space | Compiled by CHARLES EADE. and CASSELL at bottom. Although wholly set and printed in Australia by Wilke & Co. of Melbourne, it follows the pagination of the English Edition and contains the same frontispiece and four internal photographs. However, the frontispiece faces the half title, not the title page; and the internal illustrations are between pages 114-15 and 146-47. Published 1943 at A 12s. 6d.
In at least one respect the Australian issue establishes a new text: Churchill’s quip about logic (see introduction) is followed by his next sentence: “Statutory sanction would be required”; this appears only in the Australian issue. There may be other examples of textual changes.
Cassell Australia now adopted the dust jacket style of the English Edition, and the Australian jacket contains exactly the same material as the latter, although reset and printed in Australia. There was only one impression: its title page verso contains the line “First Australian Edition, 1943.” (Do not be misled by later impressions listed on dust jackets of later Australian titles; these jackets were offprinted or copied from British jackets.)
Its place in the pantheon of Churchill’s books is significant, but the Australian Issue appeals to comprehensive collectors.
Books for Libraries Issue
Cohen A183.5 / ICS A94e
Publisher: Books for Libraries, New York, 1978
A offprint published in hardback, listed in contemporary editions of Books in Print. Issued without dust jacket. Stocked until the early 1990s by the N. W. Ayer Company in Nashua, New Hampshire.
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