(Cohen A223) (Woods A112)
Victory is ironically titled. While its largest sections deal with the last eight months of the war—Yalta, Greece, the United Nations, the deaths of Lloyd George and Roosevelt, the German surrender, VE-Day, the Atomic bomb, and the surrender of Japan—a substantial section covers the General Election—in which his party was trounced and Churchill—to world consternation—was thrown out of office.
Among the election messages, Victory offers the famous “Gestapo” speech of June 5th, 1945, the one some say lost Churchill the election:
“My friends, I must tell you that a Socialist policy is abhorrent to the British ideas of freedom. Although it is now put forward in the main by people who have a good grounding in the liberalism and radicalism of the early part of this century, there can be no doubt that Socialism is inseparably interwoven with totalitarianism and the abject worship of the state. It is not alone that property, in all its forms, is struck at, but that liberty, in all its forms, is challenged by the fundamental concept of Socialism….No Socialist Government conducting the entire life and industry of the country could afford to allow free, sharp, or violently-worded expressions of public discontent. They would have to fall back on some form of Gestapo, no doubt very humanely directed in the first instance…” [Italics in the original text.]
His wife and daughter Sarah pleaded with him not to use the word “Gestapo.” A latter-day member of the Labour Party, Barbara Castle, remarked that the idea of unassuming little Clem Attlee as Himmler just wasn’t a picture worth trying to draw. But as one looks at the excesses of many bureaus, regulators, authorities and councils fifty years later—certain “environmental” or “safety” initiatives, the pigeonholing of people by ethnicity or race, the creation of government agencies for just about everything, confiscatory taxation ever to increase their budgets, and the arrogance with which many of them treat the citizenry—one wonders how far wrong Churchill was. If these agencies and the people who invented them are not the product of “abject worship of the state,” whatever else are they?
Quoting the “Gestapo speech” at the 1995 International Churchill Conference, William F. Buckley, Jr. remarked: “It was the fate of Winston Churchill to return to power in 1951 resolved not to fight the socialist encroachments of the postwar years. He, and England, were too tired, and, as with Eastern Europe and Poland, there was nothing to be done. There was no force in Europe that could move back the Soviet legions, no force in Great Britain that would reignite, until twenty-five years later, the vision Mr. Churchill displayed, speaking to the BBC microphones on June 5th, 1945, since nobody else was listening.”
Victory will always remain a sombre book. It was perhaps the experiences limned here that caused Churchill to muse in old age that he had accomplished a great deal, only to accomplish nothing in the end; and to point sadly to the motto of the Marlboroughs: “Faithful but Unfortunate.”
-Richard M. Langworth
From the Reviews
“It is not encouraging for the future to have presented to us out of context the portrait of a world statesman turned local politician. That, unfortunately, is the effect created by Victory, a collection of speeches, statements, messages to friends and supporters in the hour of triumph for the cause he led so nobly when it was all but lost. It is somewhat disheartening to be reminded by the record that the Prime Minister, who exhorted is people to face their trial so that in a thousand years history would say “this was their finest hour,” had to apologize to them in the end for his compromises with principle and had to exhort them to re-elect him and his party lest the freedom they had fought to defend vanish from their island home.
“Here in this volume we have Mr. Churchill in defeat. It was his privilege in the eight months covered by this volume to announce to his people more victories and triumphs than had come to them in the whole five and a half years of their struggle for survival. Yet there is none of that clarion call of certain leadership with which he inspired and led Great Britain through its darkest hour. Indeed, after his return from his conference with the late President Roosevelt and Marshal Stalin at Yalta, where the partition of Poland was agreed upon, we find the Prime Minister frankly confessing his uncertainty in the face of the complex problems of peace.
“Yet Mr. Churchill could not help looking ahead. As the war ended he saw the liberated countries of southeastern Europe saddled with ‘police governments’ their people beset by the fear—not it is true of aggression—but of political persecution. Yet he was sustained by confidence in the good-will of the Soviets, or rather of Stalin, whom he had come to respect as a man who scrupulously keeps his word.
“Here and there, it is true, we find flashes of the old Churchill inspiration and eloquence. But they are few and far between in the mass of prosaic and pedestrian prose which Mr. Eade has assembled. One can only hope that students of future generations will be attracted to those earlier speeches in which Britain’s wartime leader seemed imbued with the spirit of St. George and hurled defiance at the foe in the classic Elizabethan English which suits him so well.”
-Raymond Daniell, New York Times Book Review, August 25, 1946
Although wartime economy standards were still in effect, Victory is more uniformly produced and seems to contain slightly better paper, for it is less often found badly spotted, and bindings are often bright. The existence of two states lends interest.
An easy book to find, but fine copies in bright, unchipped dust jackets are always prized. The second state, which is much more common, of course sells for less.
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Cohen A223.1 / ICS A112a
Publisher: Cassell and Company Ltd., London, 1946
Light blue cloth blocked gilt with title, author’s name (now with three titles: O.M., C.H., M.P.) and CASSELL on spine. 8vo, 252 pages numbered (i) -(xii) and 1-239 (+1), with frontispiece (Churchill and Royal Family, VE-Day) and five internal photographs on two coated paper leaves inserted between pages 84-85 and 148-49. Published 27 June 1946 at 12s. 6d. ($2.50).
Impressions and Quantities
One impression of 38,000 copies, but existence of two states (see below) suggests more than one press run.
States: In the first state, page 177 is incorrectly numbered “77.” In the second state, the page has been properly numbered. Since the correctly numbered page 177 is integral, not inserted by means of a cancel, we may assume the change was noticed and corrected during the press run. This must have occurred early, for the first state is much scarcer than the second.
Publisher’s presentation copies were bound in black pebble grain morocco.
Jackets are printed black and blue fading into purple-blue on white paper. No jacket variations are reported.
Cohen A223.2 / ICS A112b
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 1946
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. 16mo, 320 pages numbered (i) -(xii) and (1)-307 (+1). Published 7 August 1946 at $3.50.
Impressions and Quantities
One impression of 5000 copies.
Jackets are printed black and red on white stock with a silhouetted photograph of Churchill giving the V-sign. The back face promotes, among other titles, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.’s The Age of Jackson and Henry Steele Commager and Allan Nevins’ America. In 1968, Commager would edit the abridged edition of Marlborough. No jacket variations noted.
This is a thin volume comparable in size to the American Dawn of Liberation. This edition was reset but the contents were not altered; there is no frontispiece or internal illustrations.
The scarcest of the Little, Brown war speech volumes, the American Edition can command three figures in fine condition.
Cohen A223.3 / ICS A112c
Publisher: McClelland and Stewart Ltd., Toronto, 1946
An offprint from the Little, Brown American Edition, the Canadian Issue was is the same size but slightly thinner. The differences are 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 white panel on the jacket spine. The red cloth is coarser and lighter than the American Edition. Published August 1946, one impression. Unlike earlier Canadian issues, copies of Victory are truly scarce, and hotly sought after by collectors wishing to complete their Canadian volumes.
Cohen A223.4 / ICS A112d
Publisher: Cassell and Company Ltd., Melbourne, 1947
Bound in light green buckram blocked black on spine with more words than the English Edition: title and publisher’s name plus “War | Speeches | by the | RIGHT HON. | WINSTON | S. | CHURCHILL, | P.C., M.P.” 8vo, 248 pages numbered (i) -(xii) and 1-(235) (+1). Wholly set and printed in Australia by Wilke & Co. of Melbourne. Illustrations are the same as the English Edition and in the same places. Published at A 12s. 6d.
This edition was published very late—later in fact than the Australian Secret Session Speeches. Its reset text has slightly different pagination from the English edition but contains the same material. The dust jacket is printed black and light blue fading into dark blue; no variations reported. There was only one impression, whose title page verso contains the line “Australian Edition…..1947”. There may be binding variants.
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