THOUGHTS AND ADVENTURES
American title: AMID THESE STORMS
(Cohen A95) (Woods A39)
Thoughts and Adventures collects essays on a vast array of subjects, attesting not only to the breadth of the author’s comprehension but also his personal experience; it represents the broadest range of Churchill’s thought between hard covers. Not yet sixty when it was published, Churchill had already seen enough of the world from the position of a high-ranking public servant to fill several political careers; he had read widely, his photographic memory recording it all for reference; and he had lived through what was then thought to be the greatest conflict in history, the “War to End All Wars.”
In this volume, he provides a charming and attractive sampler of his style and substance. “Quite a few essays…are as carefully constructed as short stories,” writes Manfred Weidhorn. “In other pieces, Churchill, little concerned with apologetics, criticism or sources, wanders nimbly around and through his subject, like a Montaigne or a Lamb. The flexibility of the style is striking. Whether sounding the dark ubi sunt motif or descanting lightly upon hobbies, Churchill, as the Times Literary Supplement reviewer noted, seems always a happy young warrior enjoying himself and sure of his convictions.”
Of some minor interest is the fact that Churchill’s longtime private secretary, Eddie Marsh, wrote the Foreword while Churchill himself was indisposed, according to Marsh’s biographer Christopher Hassall. “Stylistically, it is doubtful whether anyone would ever have known,” commented bibliographer Frederick Woods, quoting as proof the following lines from the Foreword: “…now confusion, uncertainty and peril, the powers of light and darkness perhaps in counterpoise, with Satan and Michael doubtfully reviewing their battalions…” Woods adds, “One can only admire the quality of the pastiche.”
The themes may be divided into two distinct categories. Churchill’s musings on his career—”A Second Choice,” “Personal Contacts,” “The Battle of Sidney Street,” “Election Memories,” and “The Irish Treaty”—and the means by which he was able to relax amid political storms: “Hobbies” and “Painting as a Pastime.” This is a remarkably frank collection in which he has few axes to grind; there is no defense of his actions over such as the Dardanelles, as appears in The World Crisis, and there isa franker account of how he helped stitch together the Irish Treaty than the one that appears in The Aftermath. “Painting as a Pastime” was first printed as an article in 1921, and would later appear as a freestanding book, but here Churchill uses it as an example of “Hobbies” which, he insists, are absolutely indispensable as an escape device for people otherwise enmeshed in their careers.
The Great War, memories of which still dominated general thought in the 1930s, is covered in “The German Splendour,” “My Spy Story,” “With the Grenadiers,” “Plugstreet,” “The U-Boat War,” “The Dover Barrage,” “Ludendorff’s ‘All or Nothing,’” “A Day with Clemenceau,” and “In the Air.” In these essays, we see his ability to evaluate fairly and even to praise the enemy.
Churchill discuses politics in “Cartoons and Cartoonists,” Consistency in Politics,” and “Parliamentary Government and the Economic Problem.” The last of these presents a thoughtful consideration of the future of democracy in the midst of world depression. The “Cartoons” essay is illustrated with some of Churchill’s favorite parodies of himself, and he singles out the great David Low for praise tempered by criticism; he calls Low a “green-eyed Antipodean radical” who jeers as “the fatted soul” of the British Empire. (Low disagreed with Churchill over almost everything until World War II when he drafted a famous cartoon entitled “All Behind You, Winston.”)
Perhaps most intriguing to the modern reader are Churchill’s musings on the future in a remarkable set of essays: “Shall We All Commit Suicide?,” “Mass Effects in Modern Life,” and “Fifty Years Hence.” In these pieces, we see Churchill imagining the future with H. G. Wells, or inviting readers to imagine alternative history.
“Moses” would be a subject Churchill and David Ben-Gurion later argued about in friendly meetings in their old age, Ben-Gurion setting out to prove that Jesus was a greater man, while Churchill championing Moses. One recent reviewer suggested Churchill’s thought on the subject is so evergreen that it should have appeared in Great Contemporaries.
While the book seems to have sold slowly in America, it did well in Great Britain. On December 14th,1932, Mr. Butterworth, his publisher, bubbled to Churchill that 6,903 copies had been sold: “We are truly delighted at this success which confounds the Jonah’s of the Bookselling trade.”
-Richard M. Langworth
From the Reviews
“There is much here that we could do without: some poor stuff which is best forgotten or, at least, ignored; but there are many things of splendour, too, many delights and sparkling episodes. What great advantages he had! Immersed in making the country’s history, he met and knew intimately all sorts and conditions of folk; holding office at most critical times, he was still unbowed by the heavy weight of politics which had smothered so many of his contemporaries. He could provide full-scale portraits of very famous and important person who had strutted the boards in his youth; and he knew enough of the inherent weaknesses of Man to predict a future for the human race.
“What is more, he would write. It was a pity that he took the easy path to writing, but I cannot blame him. There was clamour for his work: his name alone sold copies of magazines and papers; he lived and wrote, as he said, “from mouth to hand” and he deserved what he earned.
“Oddly, perhaps, I think Churchill was rather ashamed of Thoughts and Adventures. For a writer of genius it was all too easy hack work, and rather a comedown for a former Chancellor of the Exchequer. Had his break with Baldwin and his party not happened, few, if any, of these articles would have been written.”
-Henry Fearon, Churchill’s Works: A Commentary and Catalogue
The first edition in khaki cloth is elusive in fine condition because it soils and scratches easily; copies that have survived usually have the original dust jackets. The variant dark green binding holds up better and is highly sought after because it is much scarcer and aesthetically more pleasing.
The dust jacket for this work is almost as scarce as the jacket for My Early Life, although in contrast to the latter, it has not been replicated. A fine jacketed copy is today worth a significant premium; but a well-worn jacket depreciates the value even if the book is bright. The typical “very good” copy, has rubmarks and scratches. Later impressions cost about one fourth of the prices mentioned above.
Green cloth first editions tend to command slight premiums. If it emerges that the green ones were part of Butterworth’s hasty second impression (see Comments below), that premium will be invalidated.
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Cohen A95.1 / Woods A39(a)
Publisher: Thornton Butterworth Ltd., London, 1932
Khaki cloth. The top board bears the gilt title and author’s name with two blind rules top and bottom and publisher’s device debossed blind. The spine bears the same material as on the cover (but no logo) and THORNTON BUTTERWORTH gilt at the bottom. 8vo, 320 pages numbered (1)-(320), with frontispiece; chapter 2 illustrated with cartoons. The verso of the half-title contains a list of thirteen of the author’s other works. Endpapers are white. Published 10 November 1932 at 18 shillings ($4.50). Note: Woods also gives “4 November” as the date for the second impression, possibly a typo for 14 November.
Quantities and Impressions
Title page versos state that four impressions of this edition (as distinct from the subsequent Keystone Edition) were produced—November 1932 (three) and December 1932. But Woods lists five impressions with four in November, one in December, and may be right (see “Comments”). Woods notes 4,000 copies of the first edition and 6,000 in the later impressions, for a total run of 10,000. Seventy percent were sold by the end of the year.
Identifying first impressions: these carry only the original publishing date on the title page verso, thus: “First published 1932”.
Bindings: First editions exist bound in dark green instead of khaki cloth; all later impressions were bound in dark green cloth.
The first impression dust jacket, which is rare, is printed black on tan paper, carries a contents blurb on the front flap, “Points about THE HOME UNIVERSITY LIBRARY” on the back flap, and advertisements for My Early Life, The World Crisis (all original volumes, numbered I-VI, plus the Abridged Edition) and India on the back face. The second impression jacket is identical.
Third and fourth impression jackets are the same format but overprinted in red on the front face (in space gained by moving the author closer to the title): “The Opinion of the Press is summarised in the words of the Morning Post A TONIC FOR THE TIMES.” The front flap now carries press comments. Another jacket has been reported printed navy blue on white paper.
A letter to Churchill from George Thornton Butterworth, dated 16 December 1932, provides some clues as to the difference between impressions identified by Woods and the books themselves: “…Our first printing, as you know, was 4,000 copies, but before publication we felt it necessary to put on a new printing of 1,000. These copies came in just within half an hour of our being out of print; the same happened with the third edition; and with the 4th edition we had to ‘wangle’ deliveries from 11 o’clock in the morning until 5 o’clock in the evening when supplies were ready for distribution. The sheets were delivered by passenger train and the cases were made by the binders in advance.”
One may construe from this that the “new printing of 1,000” which Butterworth said was undertaken “before publication” used first edition sheets which indicated no second impression. If Butterworth then hastily ordered an extra 1,000 cases for them, this might account for the variant green bindings sometimes found. If Butterworth produced yet another impression after he wrote this letter, it would account for the five impressions noted by Woods.
First American Edition [AMID THESE STORMS]
Cohen A95.2 / Woods A39(b)
Publisher: Charles Scribners Sons, New York, 1932
Carmine cloth. The top board bears the gilt title AMID | THESE STORMS and WINSTON S. | CHURCHILL in a grid of blind vertical and horizontal rules. The spine bears the title, author’s name and SCRIBNERS blocked gilt, with a grid of blind rules on its top half. 8vo, 320 pages numbered (1-4), 5-319, (1), with frontispiece; chapter 2 illustrated with cartoons. Published 25 November 1932 at $3.50.
Only one impression was published. Do not be misled by the absence of a letter “A” on the title page verso. Scribners omitted this usual sign of a first edition, which they had begun using in 1930, from Amid These Storms and no copy has ever surfaced with the “A.” (Perhaps this was another case of someone at Scribners deciding that “the page looked prettier that way”—see comment under the Second American Edition of My Early Life.)
The dust jacket is printed red and black on white paper and bears a silhouetted photo of Churchill in Flanders, 1916, wearing his French poilu’s helmet. A promotional blurb appears on the front flap, a blurb for A Roving Commission appears on the back flap; advertisement for the abridged edition of The World Crisis, The Aftermath and The Unknown War on the back face.
The pressing seems to have been made from the British plates, since there is no difference in pagination, type size or arrangement from page 5 onward.
Like its identically bound cousin, A Roving Commission, fine copies of Amid These Storms are almost never seen; the dust jacket is almost as scarce.. As with A Roving Commission, copies are highly susceptible to fading and soil easily. A genuinely fine copy is a great prize. Near-fine copies in good dust jackets sell for less. Without a dust jacket, few copies have remained fine; they are sometimes encountered with faded spines but otherwise bright boards.
Keystone Library Issue:
Cohen A95.3 / ICS A39ab
Publisher: Thornton Butterworth Ltd., London, 1934
Bound in textured dark green cloth with two blind rules at top and bottom of top board and spine. Title, author’s name and publisher’s logo blocked blind or gilt on the top board; the title, author’s name and publisher’s name blocked gilt on spine. The Keystone logo is printed blue on the title page. Page (1) lists other Keystone titles; page (2) lists 16 Churchill titles. Published 26 September 1933 at 5 shillings ($1.25).
Quantities and Impressions
The first impression was of 3,000 copies, but judging by the many variant bindings, these may not all have been bound at once. A second impression was produced in February 1934.
First impressions exist with both gilt and blind titles on the top board. There are at least three variant green cloths, differing in shade and texture. Just to make things really confusing, a Keystone first impression has been found in the kahaki-color cloth of the First Edition.
There are two states to the first impression jacket: (1) large blue Keystone logo at top of front flap and seven press comments; (2) no logo and nine press comments, plus a much smaller 5s. price on the back face. The second impression has a different jacket with the back face starting with “Additions for Spring 1934,” but also has the front flap with Keystone logo at top.
The Keystone Library was a low-priced series of Thornton Butterworth titles. Aside from a title page cancel (bearing a red Keystone Library logo) and a new dust jacket, this is a direct reprint from the English First Edition plates, including the frontispiece and tipped-in map and illustrations. A good buy now as then, it can usually be obtained inexpensively, but the rare fine jacketed copy is more valuable.
Keystone Editions were sold in Canada (and possibly Australia), with the sterling prices on the dust jackets obliterated by 5/8-inch circular punched holes. The books themselves are otherwise identical to the home issues. Copies for the overseas market have some additional value.
Cohen A95.4 / ICS A39c
Publisher: Macmillan & Co. Ltd., London, 1942
Bound in navy cloth, spine only blocked gilt with title, author’s name and MACMILLAN. Reset in smaller type; 272 pages numbered (1)-(272). No frontispiece, but the cartoons remain in chapter 2. Published 1942 at 10 shillings sixpence ($2.62). Three impressions: 1942, 1942, 1943.
This title and others were obtained by Macmillan and the first impression reads, “Transferred to Macmillan & Co. Ltd. 1942” with no subsequent reprint information. There is no size difference between the impressions. Dust jackets are printed red and black on heavy white scored paper and do not vary between impressions. The back face advertises My Early Life, Great Contemporaries, Step By Step and The World Crisis (abridged, single-volume edition). Commonly found, often in its jacket and nicely bound, this is an inexpensive hardback alternative to the valuable first editions.
Cohen A95.5 / ICS A39d
Publisher: Odhams & Co. Ltd., London, 1947
Completely reset, this volume carries no frontispiece but retains the chapter 2 cartoons. Notably, it contains a publisher’s note on page vii, quoted among the reviews above. Bound in two styles: standard red cloth blocked gilt and black on top board and spine, page edges unstained; deluxe red leatherette with author signature blocked gilt on top board and black leather title/author label on spine combined with multiple devices, rules and the Odhams name, also gilt, page edges stained red. Dust jackets printed black, mauve and light blue on white paper.
Identifying first editions: verso of title page contains no date beyond 1947 and the code “S.947Q.” 8vo, 384 pages numbered (i)-x and 1-246. Four impressions: September 1947, April and August 1948, January 1949.
Odhams was a mail order bookseller, which helps explain the lack of prices on dust jackets. Deluxe bindings of first four impressions were shipped in grey cardboard boxes with Step by Step, My Early Life and Great Contemporaries at 32s. ($6.40) postpaid to mail order clients. This title was offered c.1954 (with My Early Life and Step by Step) to buyers of Malcolm Thompson’s Churchill: His Life and Times, by Odhams under the general series title, “The People’s Home Library.” All the Odhams editions are common except the first Impression of 1947, although no special premium attaches to it.
Books For Libraries Issue [AMID THESE STORMS]
Cohen A95.6 / ICS A39e
Publisher: Books for Libraries, New York, 1972
A reprint photographically reproduced, probably from the 1932 Scribners Edition, and still entitled AMID THESE STORMS.
Ayer Issue [AMID THESE STORMS]
Cohen A95.7 / ICS A39f
Publisher: The Ayer Company (Publishers) Inc., Salem, NH, 1984
A library reprint photographically reproduced, probably from the 1932 Scribners Edition, since it is identical down even to the frontispiece (crudely re-photographed, but still there). Possibly another pressing of the Books for Libraries issue, which Ayer stocked in other Churchill titles. Bound in Wedgwood blue shiny cloth blocked white on spine only: “Churchill” (reads across), AMID THESE STORMS (reads down), AYER (reads across). This issue carried a price of $28 and remained in print until 1995.
The New Edition, 1990
The first new trade edition in many years had two hardback and one paperback issues. Features common to all issues are as follows: text photographically reproduced from the “Collected Works” (see appendix); new Foreword by Tom Hartmann (in addition to the author’s original Preface); appendix on the International Churchill Societies; maps and plans from the Collected Works (redrawn) pages.
First New Edition
Cohen A95.8 / ICS A39ga
Publisher: Leo Cooper, London, 1990
Black cloth, blocked gilt on spine, offprinted from the “Collected Works” 1974 edition. 248 pages numbered (I)-(x) and (1)-(238); no frontispiece; cartoons in chapter 2. Pages (vii)-ix contain a new foreword by Tom Hartman; pages (237-38) contain a note on the International Churchill Society, which collaborated in the reprint. The dust jacketed is printed black and red on white paper with the titles dropped out white or grey. Published at £16.95.
Cohen A95.9 / ICS A39gc
Publisher: Mandarin Paperbacks, London, 1991
Photographically reproduced from the Cooper Edition and printed in a reduced) size, this (5 x 7 3/4”) paperback was published at £5.99. The front wrapper bears the subtitle, “Through Stormy Years.”
First American Issue
Cohen A95.10 / ICS A39gb
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Co., New York, 1991
Brown cloth stamped silver on spine, plain boards with “WSC” debossed blind. Pagination as above. 8vo, sold at $22.95. White dust jacket printed brown, gold and black; photo of author as a young Member of Parliament on front face. One impression, no known variations.
Danish: TANKER OG OPLEVELSER
Published by Steen Hasselbalch Forlag: Copenhagen, 1948, in card wrappers and leatherbound.
French: REFLEXIONS ET AVENTURES
Published by Delachaux et Niestle: Neuchatel, Switzerland, 1944. A new edition entitled REVIVRE MA VIE was published by Olivier: Paris, 1981.
At least two impressions. Published in wrappers with allegorical artwork summarizing the contents, and in tan cloth.
German: GEDANKEN UND ABENTEUER
Published by Amstutz Herdeg: Zurich, 1943. Three impressions.
Korean: THOUGHTS AND ADVENTURES KOREAN TITLE? IN ENGLISH?
Published by Sang Rok Mun: Seoul, 1956.
Spanish: PENSAMIENTOS Y AVENTURAS
Published by Los Libros de Nuestro Tiempo: Barcelona, 1943, in both red and medium blue cloth.
Swedish: TANKAR OCH MINNEN
Published by Norstedt: Stockholm 1933; four impressions, card wrappers or cloth, except for the third impression, which was a unique softbound book. A new edition entitled TANKER OCH AVENTYR was published by Albatross/Norstedt in 1949, with a second impression in paperback in 1953.
Combined Work: CHURCHILL ON MEN AND EVENTS, Cohen A269
Subtitled: “A Selection from ‘Thoughts and Adventures’ and ‘Great Contemporaries’ made by Andrew Scotland, M.A., Ph.D.”, this work was published by Ginn & Company Ltd., London, 1965. It appears to be the only work to combine chapters from both of Churchill’s mid-thirties collections of essays. Frontispiece has a drawing of T. E. Lawrence by Augustus John.
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Click here for a list of terminology, bibliographic information, and other notes.