THE WORLD CRISIS
(Cohen A69) (Woods A31)
Many connoisseurs of Churchill and his writing style who were introduced to him through The Second World War or A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, soon find that an even more readable multi-volume work exists, his history of the First World War: The World Crisis. Like all of Churchill’s war books, The World Crisis is highly biased and personal, tending to magnify and defend the author’s own role in affairs. But one of Churchill’s endearing characteristics was his unabashed honesty. Of The World Crisis, he declared that it was “not history, but a contribution to history;” later, of The Second World War, he would say similarly, “This is not history; this is my case.”
It is useful to briefly explain the arrangement of the original volumes. Though commonly described as a six-volume work, The World Crisis is more accurately described as a five volume work in six books: the middle two volumes, subtitled 1916-1918, were issued in two parts, but were sold as a pair, slipcased together in the USA and Canada. They are often referred to as “Volumes 3a and 3b.” Thus the last two volumes, The Aftermath and The Eastern Front, are correctly Volumes IV and V respectively, and the whole set is “5- in-6,” as usually described by knowledgeable booksellers.
This causes some confusion, since English Editions from Volume II on carried sequential stars on their spines. The two 1916-1918 books have three and four stars, The Aftermath, five and The Eastern Front six. Scribners added to the muddle by labeling the 1916-1918 volumes “Volume I” and “Volume II.” In later impressions and editions, such as the 1963-64 Scribners, the books were simply redesignated Volumes I through VI. Nevertheless, the most accurate description is “5-in-6.”
Volume I goes back to 1911 and the great power rivalries to trace the background and dramatic opening of the war, more or less like The Gathering Storm traces events leading up to World War II. Volume II, 1915, is the most personal, largely devoted to Churchill’s failed efforts to break the deadlock in Europe by forcing the Dardanelles, knocking Turkey out of the war and succoring the Russians. Volume III, 1916-1918 (both parts) covers the carnage on the Western Front, the German victory over Russia and almost-victory over the Allies in 1918, and the final, exhausted end of the war. The Aftermath chronicles events in which Churchill was involved during the ten years after victory, including the Irish Treaty; The Eastern Front‘s subject is self-explanatory, dealing with the titanic battles between Russia and the German-Austrian armies.
One cannot think of another 20th Century statesman who not only spent most of the two World Wars in high office but was also able to write of them in such superb English, with such eloquence and verve. Even those who do not usually read war books will be entranced by the Churchill’s account of the awful, unfolding scene, written as if the reader were a colleague, observing the march of events over his burly shoulder.
-Richard M. Langworth
From the Reviews
“Carnage on an unprecedented scale was the salient feature of the First World War, and the writing on that carnage is largely responsible for the modern disgust not only with war but also with politics in general…Churchill knew everything about the war’s horror that the other writers knew, but he rejected their conclusions: for him, the war did not mean the death of political life as men had previously known it. In examining the political and military failures that were responsible for the slaughter and in suggesting how prudence might have averted disaster, Churchill reasserted the dignity of the political life, which the war had made men regard as ignominious, unnatural, and mad…
“Churchill is an exemplar of the political life that the Great War is alleged to have repudiated forever. He renders the war as nightmare but also makes clear that the nightmare did not take place in a void. While he recognizes the truth of the soldier’s story—as a battalion commander in France, he was beloved by his men and renowned for his fearlessness—he knows it is a fragmentary truth. The soldier’s story is the heart of his history, but his own greater understanding informs it. The World Crisis celebrates the Allied triumph—especially the British part in it—but mourns the European tragedy. The history is decidedly partisan, leaving no doubt that the right side won, yet it is withering in its appraisal of both sides’ folly. The spectacle takes place under a pitiless emotional overcast that is relieved by only the rarest glimmers of magnificence. The virtues that Churchill honors as pre-eminent are, awfully, those of the men who were smashed in the general wreckage. It is above all to demonstrate how the chronic infirmity of political and military command made them suffer as they did that Churchill writes this history…”
-Algis Valiunas in The American Spectator, April 1991
It is not widely known that Volume I, at least, appeared in America before its British counterpart, making this the true First Edition. However, the Scribner volumes have not worn as well as the British, particularly Volume I, which was bound in an inferior cloth that, in most cases, quickly discolored and faded, while the gilt turned black. Later volumes, and later impressions of Volume I, used a much better cloth and brighter gilt, and these are often found in fine condition.
The American Edition had fewer reprints than the English, so non-first editions are less often encountered. They sell for half or less of the price of firsts. Reprints of Volume I are prized because of the deplorable state of most first editions of that volume. Jacketed sets are extremely rare. Typical unjacketed sets with Volume I “faded as usual” are good buys, but a perfect Volume I, if ever seen, would double their value.
§ § §
Cohen A69.1 / ICS A31aa
Publisher: Charles Scribners Sons, New York, 1923-31
Five volumes in six parts
Dark brown cloth blocked gilt, 8vo. Vol. I published April 1923 at $6.50, 604 pages numbered (i)-(xiv) and (1)-(590). Vol. II published October 1923 at $6.50, 592 pages numbered (i)-(xiv) and 1-578. Vol. III (in two parts) published 1927 in a slipcase at $10; Part 1 (“Vol. I”) 320 pages numbered (i)-(xviii) and 1-302; Part 2 (“Vol. II”) 338 pages numbered (i)-(x) and 1-326. Vol. IV The Aftermath published 1929 at $5, 520 pages numbered (i)-(xvi) and 1-502 (+2). Vol. V The Unknown War published 1931 at $5, 414 pages numbered (i)-(xviii) and 1-396. All volumes illustrated with maps and charts (and a photo in vol. I).
Later impressions have binding variations. First editions are bound as follows:
Vol. I: THE WORLD CRISIS and WINSTON S. CHURCHILL on top board (inside blind box rule) and spine; SCRIBNERS on lower spine. (A single star appeared on the spine on some but not all impressions.)
Vol. II: THE WORLD CRISIS and WINSTON S. CHURCHILL on top board (inside blind box rule) and spine; spine usually but not always contains two stars, the subtitle “1915” and the SCRIBNERS imprint.
Vol. III: Plain top boards; spines are lettered with the main title, author’s name and Scribners imprint and subtitles “1916-1918 and VOL. I or VOL II”.
Vol. IV: THE AFTERMATH and WINSTON S. CHURCHILL on top board (inside blind box rule) and spine; spine is subtitled “1918-1928.”
Vol. V: THE UNKNOWN WAR and WINSTON S. CHURCHILL on top board (inside blind box rule); spine adds THE EASTERN FRONT and the SCRIBNERS imprint.
At least this many impressions are known: Vol. I, four (1923 twice, 1924, 1930). Vol. II, two (1923, 1929). Vol. III, one for each part (1927). The Aftermath, three (March, April, September1929). The Unknown War, three (1931 twice, 1932).
Identifying first impressions: Volumes I and II carry the date 1923 on title page and no reprint information on the title page verso. Volume III, both parts, carry the date 1927 on title page. The Aftermath carries the date 1929 on title page and no reprint information on title page verso. The Unknown War carries the date 1931 on title page and the block letter “A” on title page verso.
Volumes I and II: Off-white or cream paper printed black, flaps blank except for $6.50 price, book descriptions on front faces. Volume I back face details “Important New Scribner Publications,” Volume II back face contains an advert for Volume I.
Volume III: These two books were originally slipcased, and their jackets are thus plain, except for the legend “$10.00 | Two Volumes” on the upper front flaps and jacket spine lettering identical to the books themselves, printed black on off-white or cream paper. The very rare slipcase carries two tipped-on labels: a title/author’s name/publisher label on the back and a boxed description of the books, printed dark brown on cream laid paper, on one side.
The Aftermath: Grey paper printed navy blue, flaps blank except for $5.00 price, book description on front face with title/author’s name/publisher in an odd, bold face not used elsewhere; spine is lettered to match the book’s spine.
The Unknown War: Grey threaded paper printed deep red with titles, author’s names and publisher spine imprint in a unique, bold typeface. Description of the book on front face, advert with review blurbs for the Abridged Edition (Woods A31b) on back face. Front flap contains “The Unknown War…$5.00” above a blurb for A Roving Commission; backflap contains a blurb promoting The Aftermath.
Although all World Crisis jackets are extremely rare, collectors should pay close attention to the descriptions of them, since later impression jackets may be different; first impressions with later impression jackets are “married pieces,” and worth no premium.
First English Edition
Cohen A69.2 / ICS A31ab
Publisher: Thornton Butterworth Ltd., London, 1923-31
Five volumes in six parts
Navy cloth blocked blind on cover, blind and gilt on spine, 8vo. Vol. I published 10 April 1923 at 30 shillings, 544 pages numbered (2), (i)-(vi) and 1-536. Vol. II published 30 October 1923 at 30 shillings, 560 pages numbered (1)-557 (+3). Vol. III (in two parts) published 3 March 1927 at 42 shillings; Part 1, 292 pages numbered (1)-(292); Part 2, 308 pages numbered (i)-(x) and 293-589 (+1). Vol. IV The Aftermath published 7 March 1929 at 30 shillings, 476 pages numbered (1)-474 (+2). Vol. V The Eastern Front published 2 November 1931 at 30 shillings, 368 pages numbered (1)-368. All volumes variously illustrated with photos, maps and charts.
Later impressions have binding variations, including different thicknesses; first editions are bound as follows (all with blind publisher’s logo on top board and two thick blind rules on top and bottom of top board and spine):
Vol. I: THE WORLD CRISIS 1911-1914 and WINSTON S. CHURCHILL on top board (inside blind box rule). The same titling plus THORNTON BUTTERWORTH imprint gilt on spine. No star on spine.
Vol. II: THE WORLD CRISIS 1915 and WINSTON S. CHURCHILL on top board (inside blind box rule). The same titling plus THORNTON BUTTERWORTH and two stars gilt on spine.
Vol. III: THE WORLD CRISIS 1916-1918 Part. I. (or Part. II.) and WINSTON S. CHURCHILL on top board (inside blind box rule). The same titling plus THORNTON BUTTERWORTH and three stars (Part I) or four stars (Part 2) gilt on spine.
Vol. IV: THE WORLD CRISIS, THE AFTERMATH and WINSTON S. CHURCHILL on top board (inside blind box rule). The same titling plus THORNTON BUTTERWORTH and five stars gilt on spine.
Vol. V: THE WORLD CRISIS, THE EASTERN FRONT and WINSTON S. CHURCHILL on top board (inside blind box rule). The same titling plus THORNTON BUTTERWORTH and six stars gilt on spine.
Editions, Impressions and Quantities
At least this many impressions are known:
Vol. I, eight (first edition April 1923; second edition April 1923, reprinted same month; third edition November 1923, reprinted July 1924, May 1927, December 1927, February 1930).
Vol. II, six (October 1923 thrice, December 1923, May 1927, February 1929).
Vol III, five (January 1927, March 1927 twice, April 1927, September 1930).
The Aftermath, three (two in March 1929; the third in June 1929).
The Eastern Front, two, both November 1931.
Identifying first impressions: All first impressions carry the legend “First Published” followed by a single date on the verso of the title page. All later impressions carry notes of subsequent printings in this place.
Quantities (according to Woods). Vol. I: 7380 first editions, 16,462 total. Vol. II: 7500 first editions, 14,260 total. Vol. III: 7523 first editions, 14,598 total. The Aftermath: 7500 first editions, 11,000 total. The Eastern Front: 5150 first editions, 7994 total.
These volumes are commonly found with non-first edition dust jackets, so carefully check jackets to be sure they are not “married.” The descriptions of first edition jackets follow:
Vol. I: Printed navy on grey paper. Title, author’s name, publisher, price and MAPS AND CHARTS on front face and spine; quote from page 188 also on front face. Contents blurb on front flap. No adverts for subsequent volumes or review blurbs for Vol. I on flaps or back face.
Vol. II: Printed dark brown on tan paper. Front face and spine similar to above. Contents blurb on front flap, Vol. I press noticed on back flap, advert for Vol. I on back face.
Vol. III: Printed black on grey paper. Front face and spine similar to above, but face blurb is not by Churchill. Contents blurb on front flap, six titles of “General Literature” on back flap, adverts for Vols. I and II on back face. Aside from the distinguishing legends “Part I.” and “Part II.” (no period after “Part”) on spines, jackets for the two parts are identical.
The Aftermath: Printed black on greenish grey paper. Front face, front flap and spine arranged similarly to Vol. III. Back flap contains blurb for Beaverbrook’s two volumes, Politicians and the War. Adverts for Vols. I, II and III on back face.
The Eastern Front: Printed black and red on green paper (which has often faded to a brown color). Front face, front flap and spine similar to above. Back flap contains press notices for My Early Life. Advert for the abridged and revised World Crisis on back face. The jacket was unaltered for the second impression.
Later impressions of Volume I sometimes occur with a single star on the spine, uniform with numeration stars on other volumes. Commencing with the third impression, Volume III (both parts) are distinctly thinner from the use of thinner paper. The single spine star designating Volume I is always present after the first three printings, i.e., commencing with the “Third Edition, first impression.”
Woods’ listing of two impressions of The Eastern Front has been challenged, but Woods is right: several copies of the second impression have been spotted; their title page verso notes publication in November 1931, the same month as the first.
All volumes are illustrated with photos, maps and charts which can be checked by consulting the lists of illustrations in the front of each. Some maps are fold-outs. Points to look for: Vol. I 1911-1914: a 13-item errata slip can occur in several places, including p. (vi), p. 1 and elsewhere. Vol. III, 1916-1918 Part 2: A three-item errata slip is tipped onto the half title. The Aftermath: A two-item errata slip is tipped onto page 9 (Woods says between 10 and 11, which may be a variation). The Eastern Front: a large color fold-out map is tipped onto the last free endpaper, following page 368. This is also the only volume with a frontispiece (Emperor Franz Joseph), and contains seven other photographs.
Although not the true first edition, the English version is more aesthetically desirable, being bound in a more durable and uniform material and equipped with shoulder notes on each page that summarize the subject of each page. Probably for that reason, it is more popular among collectors who only wish to own one edition. Jacketed sets are extremely rare and command deservedly high prices. The main problem with these volumes is spotting of pages and page edges from their damp life in England, and “bubbling” of the cloth, especially on The Aftermath. Later impressions cost much less, even in top condition and half as much with more wear. For this kind of money you might prefer one of the later sets, such as the full-leather Easton Press edition.
Cohen A69.3 / ICS A31ac
Publisher: Macmillan Company of Canada, Ltd., Toronto, 1923-31
Five volumes in six parts
Published in Canada from the American plates, this issue is identical in all respects to the latter, save for Macmillan imprints on title pages (cancels), spines and dust jackets. The Canadian Macmillan logo also appears on dust jacket spines. Curiously, the jacket flaps contain no prices. These issues are quite rare. Ostensibly equal in value to the American Edition, the Canadian Issue is probably somewhat less important, and should not quite reach price levels of the Scribner set.
Cohen A69.4 / ICS A31ad
Publisher: Australasian Publishing Co., Ltd., Sydney and Melbourne, 1923
Two volumes: 1911-1914 and 1915 Published from the English plates, this issue is identical to the latter, save for Australasian Publishing Co. imprints on title pages and dust jacket spines. There is no publisher’s imprint, however, on the spines of the books. After Volume II, a separate Australian issue was not produced, and the Australian market received the standard English issues of the other volumes. These two volumes are interesting anomalies.
Times Book Club Issue
Publisher: Thornton Butterworth Ltd., London, 1923-27
All volumes were sold cheaply by the Times Book Club, which usually used first printings, except for The Eastern Front, which is a second. The TBC binding has larger stars and cruder lettering; copies usually contain sticker labels on rear pastedowns. This is the second instance of a Times Book Club issue of one of Churchill’s works (see Lord Randolph Churchill). Collectors instinctively avoid anything non-standard looking, even if they don’t know what it is; in this case they are certainly right, for this is a book club issue despite first printing sheets. A full set is rare.
American Abridged & Revised Edition
Cohen A69.5 / ICS A31bb
Publisher: Charles Scribners Sons, New York, 1931
Navy cloth, boards blank. Spine blocked gilt with abbreviated title (THE WORLD CRISIS) author’s name and SCRIBNERS imprint. 8vo, 880 pages numbered (i) -xii and (1)-866 (+2). The verso of the half-title lists six of Churchill’s previous works. Illustrated with maps and plans. Published February 1931 at $5.00.
There are at least three impressions: 1931, 1942 and 1949. The first impression is easily distinguished by its 1931 date on the title page and block letter “A” on title page verso. Colors also aid identification: the 1931 is navy, the 1942 medium blue, the 1949 vertically scored red cloth.
The original dust jacket is printed black on yellow paper with the title, author’s name, description and “$5” appearing next to a photo of Churchill walking. The front flap contains a contents blurb, the back flap reviewer Comments on The Aftermath, and the back face reviewer Comments on My Early Life. Later jackets bear a Karsh photo of Churchill and facsimile signature on the front faces.
I had understood that according to The New York Times, this work was published on February 7th 1931, 19 days before the English Edition, making this the true first edition. The new Cohen Bibliography, however, indicates that the London edition takes priority.
Unjacketed copies are worth about the same as the English Editions. A jacketed copy is another proposition. I know of only two or three of these in existence.
First British Abridged & Revised Edition
Cohen A69.6 / ICS A31ba
Publisher: Thornton Butterworth Ltd., London, 1931
Medium green cloth (bright green on third impression). The top board bears the title (“THE WORLD CRISIS 1911-1918 Abridged & Revised Edition”) author’s name and publisher logo debossed blind. Two thick blind rules at top and bottom of top board and spine. The spine bears the title, author’s name publisher’s name imprint, all gilt. 8vo, 832 pages numbered (1)-831 (+1). The verso of the half-title contains a boxed advert for 12 of Churchill’s other works. Illustrated with maps and plans. Published 26 February 1931 at 21 shillings.
Quantities and Impressions
Woods lists 5000 first impressions and 3000 second impressions (January 1932) but fails to mention a third impression in bright green cloth (October 1937).
Dust Jackets and Variants
A striking jacket is printed black and red-orange on thin, bright green paper (which is often faded); a variant jacket is printed on thicker, lined cream stock. Both these jackets carry a contents blurb on the front flap, an advert for The Aftermath on the back flap, and an advert for My Early Life on the back face. A second state jacket adds The Eastern Front to the back flap.
Often passed up by collectors as a mere abridgment, this volume is essential to the complete library because Churchill added new material and considerable revisions. Aside from his new foreword there is a completely new chapter on the Battle of the Marne. Also, writes Churchill, “I have had to record a somewhat different account of Lord Fisher’s resignation from than that which appeared in the original edition. Mr. Asquith’s disclosures in his ‘Memoirs’ and Lord Fisher’s own biographers have cast a less charitable light upon the conduct of the old Admiral than that in which I had viewed it.” (Asquith’s memoirs disclosed that Fisher had written an incredible letter offering to remain at the Admiralty if vested virtually with dictatorial powers, refusing to serve either under Churchill or his successor, Arthur Balfour). As such, a copy of this work belongs on the shelf of every serious Churchill library.
Dust jackets are extremely rare. Routine lightly worn unjacketed copies sell for less, and later impressions seem much less common than the first edition.
Canadian Abridged & Revised Issue
Cohen A69.7 / ICS A31bc
Publisher: Macmillan Company of Canada Ltd., Toronto, 1931
Produced with American plates and identical to the American Edition with the exception of Macmillan imprints on spine, jacket and title page. I have never seen the jacket but presume it is similar to the American. The same notes as to rarity and value apply here as to the American Edition.
Cohen A69.8 / Woods A31c
Publisher: Thornton Butterworth Ltd., London, 1933
A limited edition of 1,354 copies compiled by Churchill from the Abridged and Revised Edition, illustrated with maps. This is a textbook which, as it states, was “Privately printed for the Royal Military College, Sandhurst.” 16mo, 512 pages numbered (1)-511 (+1). Bound in red cloth, publisher’s logo blocked blind on top board. Spine printed black with THE WORLD CRISIS, author’s name, “Sandhurst Edition” and publisher’s name. Woods records its price as 13/6.
Because of Churchill’s association with Sandhurst, and because his chapter selections shed light on his military thinking, this is a desirable though scarce edition of The World Crisis. It contains a completely reset text in which Churchill selected various chapters from his 1931 Abridged and Revised volume. It was once deemed very valuable, but many copies have turned up recently. The rare fine example is likely to cost a good deal. However, most were used as cadet textbooks so the typical example is well worn, often underlined and/or marked with marginal notes. These sell for rather less.
THE GREAT WAR (First Illustrated Edition)
Cohen A69.9 / ICS A31d (26, 3 & 4 vols.)
Publisher: George Newnes Ltd., London, 1933-34
The brief mention in Woods (page 51) quite fails to do justice to this beautiful work, which, though its text is abridged, constitutes the first illustrated edition of The World Crisis. It began as a serialization, issued in 26 magazine-format parts every fortnight between September 1933 and October 1934. Part 1 contains a brand new Foreword by Churchill; Part 26 contains appendices and index. After these were published Newnes offered the parts cased in three volumes, and later in a four-volume set jointly produced with The Home Library Book Company.
First Appearance (26 Parts): Measuring 7×10″, these are square-bound magazines, each with cover photo, title and author’s name dropped out against a medium blue background. Part 1’s spine is blank; the other spines are numbered with the title and author’s name repeated. Inside and back wrapper faces contain adverts for the series, other Newnes publications, even life assurance! Wrappers were omitted from the bound volumes noted below.
Second Appearance (3 Vols.): Bound volumes (520, 520, 672 pages numbered consecutively with eight pages of preliminaries per volume, comprising 98 chapters. Two styles of publisher-authorized bindings were offered, both by A. W. Bain & Co., Ltd. of Cambridge Heath, London.
The “Library Binding”: half crimson morocco leather, cloth sides, blocked 22 ct. gilt on spine with title, volume number, author’s name and a decorative design (globe exploding four ways). Offered at 8 shillings ($2) per bound volume (not including internals), or 4/6 ($1.12) for each case alone.
The “Standard Binding”: royal blue cloth blocked blind and gilt on top board and blind on spine with title, author’s name, volume number, publisher’s name, and decorative design (globe exploding from the top). Offered at 5 shillings ($1.25) per bound volume (not including internals) or 2/6 (66¢) for each case alone. Note: spine volume numbers appear in both Roman and Arabic, sometimes interchangeably within sets.
Later Bindings: Though not mentioned by Newnes, I have examined other binding variations, most commonly a plain red cloth with the title blocked gilt and a blind wreath design on the top board. The title, author’s name and volume number are blocked gilt between faint blind boxes on the spine. I have seen enough of these to conclude that they were a later, possibly cheaper, publisher’s binding, not a “freelance” variation.
Yet another binding, in plain red cloth blocked gilt on spine only, may be a private binding.
Third Appearance (4 Vols.): Bound volumes (392, 456, 492, 452 pages numbered consecutively with eight pages of preliminaries per volume, comprising 98 chapters) in “Red Cape Levant Moroquette” (leatherette) with gilt top page edges. A wreathed sword device is blocked blind on the top board and silver and gilt on the spine. The title appears in gilt on top board and spine; spines also contain gilt author’s name, volume number and Newnes name. The outside board edges of each volume are beveled: a nice touch.
This most elaborate and final variation of The Great War was an installment mail offer by the Home Library Book Company, 23-24 Tavistock Street, London in conjunction with Newnes, announced late 1934 and running into 1935. A 1934 advert states, “5/ [$1.25] brings the four superb volumes carriage paid to your door!” A 2 February 1935 advert reduces this to only “3/” (75¢). Whether these were the prices of each volume (which seems cheap), or simply a “hook” to bait the customer I have not determined.
All variants of The Great War contain the same pages, profusely illustrated and captioned, though it’s doubtful, judging by their English, that the captions are Churchill’s. They certainly offer wonderful graphics to support the author’s towering prose, and, since they constitute the first illustrated World Crisis, the serious collector really ought to own one. I know bibliophiles who own six!
Originally one shilling each, the individual parts cost little as odd volumes, but a full set of 26 is worth considerable money in fine condition, much more in custom-made boxes, or half as much in as-usual condition with wear and chips.
The most luxurious set is the three-volume half-leather Library Binding, but both the Standard and Home Library bindings are splashier and colourful. Half-leather bindings are rarely found in top condition because the leather tends to dry out and crack over the years. Fine examples of the cloth and Home Library bindings can cost dearly, and are worth it.
THE UNKNOWN WAR, Keystone Issue
Cohen A69.10 / ICS A31e
Publisher: Thornton Butterworth Ltd., London, 1937
Bound in medium blue cloth (rougher material than the first edition) with publisher’s logo blocked blind on the top board and the title, author’s name and publisher’s name blocked gilt on the spine. The dust jacket is printed black and red on scored pale green paper and is quickly identified with its red Keystone Library logos.
The Keystone Library was a low-priced series of Thornton Butterworth titles which had run their course as trade editions and were now offered as low priced reprints. 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, and still includes the excellent color folding map tipped in following page 368. There was one impression only, offered at 5/ ($1.25).
Churchill tended to second-guess his English publishers when recommending titles. The Unknown War was the one he sold to Charles Scribner, and evidently he finally prevailed with his English publisher on this one. “The Eastern Front” appears as a subtitle on the spine, title page and (in parentheses) on the dust jacket.
Cohen A69.11 / ICS A31f (2 vols.)
Publisher: Odhams Press, London, 1939
I have Dr. Gordon Cohen to thank for pointing out to me that these thick volumes are not abridgments, but the entire text of the first four volumes, including Churchill’s revisions from the 1931 Abridged and Revised edition. Entirely reset, it constitutes a new and separate edition of over 1400 pages with comprehensive, if not elaborate, maps and illustrations. It is therefore quite desirable, both bibliographically and for collectors who want the complete text but not the financial burden of a first edition. Of course it lacks the final two volumes of the complete work, but these can be acquired separately (see some of the following entries).
The Odhams Edition was published at 7s 6d ($1.83) the set and promoted by the Daily Herald. William Manchester’s The Last Lion (Vol. II, page 306, US edition) quotes a late 1930s letter from Churchill to his wife: “Tomorrow the Daily Herald began distributing the new cheap edition of the World Crisis which Odham’s have printed. It can be sold for 3/9 for each of the two volumes—a miracle of mass production. They expect to sell 150,000! I like to feel that for the first time the working people will hear my side of the tale.”
The work is bound in both grayish blue and deep red leatherette with a raised bust of Churchill surrounded by a circular title/author’s name and blind rules on the top boards. Spines contain the title (THE WORLD CRISIS 1911-1918), author’s name and one or two gilt stars designating the volume number, blocked gilt. There are several binding variations:
Navy blue cloth, plain top page edges, author signature blocked blind on top board. (In this form the work is uniform with a two-volume edition of Lloyd George’s war memoirs.)
Deep red cloth, red stained top page edges, author signature blocked gilt on top board, printed marbleized yellow-brown endpapers.
As above with a more elaborate spine: title/author’s name gilt on a blind panel; three groups of debossed spine ribs; 18 pairs of gilt decorative rules.
Originally the volumes were not jacketed and were shipped in grey cardboard boxes (one volume per box). In 1942 or later, the famous Karsh “angry lion” portrait, taken in Ottawa in late 1941, was the basis of an attractive dust jacket, printed orange or blue and black on white paper and marked “VOL. I.” or “VOL. II.” on the lower spine. These jackets have been found on all three binding variants, always bearing the same price: 8/6 ($2.12) for the two volumes. Clearly, the jacket was unavailable for pre1942 copies. Since the boards are quite elaborate for a cheap work, and since no other jacket has been observed on thousands of copies, it is likely that the Odhams Edition was originally issued without jackets.
This edition is very easy to come by in good condition, although better examples bring a premium. Combined with reprints of The Aftermath and The Eastern Front it forms the least expensive full text of The World Crisis available. It is an obvious choice for readers on a budget. Alternatives are the postwar four volume Odhams issue or the new Barnes & Noble issue (see below).
THE AFTERMATH, Macmillan Issue
ICS A31g Publisher: Macmillan & Co. Ltd., London, 1941
Officially retitled THE AFTERMATH | being a sequel to | THE WORLD CRISIS, this work was transferred to Macmillan after Thornton Butterworth went into voluntary liquidation in 1940. With 476 pages, it is reprinted from the Thornton Butterworth plates and bound in dark navy cloth blocked gilt (THE AFTERMATH | A Sequel to | THE WORLD | CRISIS) with author’s and publisher’s names on the spine. A second impression was issued in 1944. Dust jackets are printed red and black on off-white paper.
Identifying first impressions: this is distinctly taller than the 1944 impression: 9 1/2″ high against 9″. Dust jackets look the same, but the 1941 jacket is on slightly yellower paper and the type and photo of the author are reduced to fit the smaller dimensions of the 1944 impression. The half-title verso of the 1941 bears the first publication date and Macmillan transfer date 1941; the reprint adds, “Reprinted 1944.” This is a modestly priced Aftermath compared to first editions, but expect to pay a premium for a fine jacketed 1941 impression, which looks and feels like a first edition.
THE UNKNOWN WAR, Macmillan Issue
Cohen A69.13 ICS A31h
Publisher: Macmillan & Co. Ltd., London, 1941
This reprint from Thornton Butterworth sheets was published simultaneously and uniform with the Macmillan Aftermath, but had only one impression of just 600 copies. Its size, binding and jacket are uniform with the Macmillan Aftermath, but it is considerably rarer, and commands a higher price—not nearly as high, of course, as Eastern Front first editions. Because the binding and spine lettering are quite close to the latter, it does not look out of place among a Thornton Butterworth editions, and is a budget substitute for the latter. But it is highly collectable in its own right, since it is so rare; the jackets are especially uncommon.
Second Abridged & Revised Edition
Cohen A69.14 / ICS A31bd
Publisher: Macmillan & Co. Ltd., London, 1941
When Thornton Butterworth went out of business in 1940, most of their Churchill works were subsequently published by Macmillan, including Abridged and Revised World Crisis. There are three impressions, all on thin wartime paper: 1941 (dark blue cloth), 1942 (very dark blue-black cloth) and 1943 (rougher, lighter blue cloth). All these are easily identified by dates on their title page versos. All impressions sold for 18 shillings. Today the reprints are common: a fine Macmillan First in like dust jacket might approach $100/£60, but certainly no more; lesser copies and later impressions sell for as little as $10/£5.
Identifying first impressions: The title page verso of the Macmillan First lists all three 1930s impressions followed by the line, “Transferred to Macmillan & Co. Ltd. – 1941.” Later impressions give the first publication date, the transfer dates and the reprint date (“1942” or “1942,1943”). Although all dust jackets are printed red and black on cream paper, first impression jackets are different: their paper is heavier, scored material and the back face advertises (in order) My Early Life, Great Contemporaries, Step by Step and The World Crisis. Later impression jackets are printed on lighter, cheaper paper and their back faces advertise (in order) My Early Life, Thoughts and Adventures, Great Contemporaries and Step by Step. Later jackets add The World Crisis, The Aftermath and The Unknown War to back face adverts.
This is a budget alternative to 1930s editions which is just as readable, since all the original fold-out maps are preserved.
Second Odhams Issue
Cohen A69.15 / ICS A31j (4 Vols.)
Publisher: Odhams Press Ltd., London, 1949
An offprint or reprint of the prewar Odhams two-volume edition broken down into four volumes, this postwar issue is more manageable to read, but unfortunately rare. Only one impression occurred, in September 1949. As usual with postwar Odhams works, the sets were offered in two binding variants:
Standard: bright red cloth; title and one to four stars (indicating volume) blocked gilt and black, and author signature blocked gilt, on top board; title/star(s), author’s name and publisher’s name blocked gilt and black on spine, separated by repeat publisher’s devices and gilt rules.
Deluxe: red leatherette; author signature blocked gilt with blind rules on top board; title, star(s), author’s name between heavy rules blocked gilt on leather spine label; spine decorated with multiple devices, rules and the Odhams name, also gilt.
The familiar Odhams style, printed pink and black on white paper, bearing title, author’s name and stars to indicate volume on front face and spine and Odhams name printed black on lower spine.
Recommended if you can find it. There seems no difference in value between the two binding styles, although Odhams sold the deluxe for a premium back in 1949.
Second American Edition
Cohen A69.16 / ICS A31ae
Publisher: Charles Scribners Sons, New York, 1963-64
Published one volume at a time over two years, this was an offprint of the original Scribners volumes with smaller page margins resulting in smaller books: 5 1/2 x 8 1/2″ compared to the original 6 1/4 x 9″. The volumes are numbered consecutively, so 1916-1918 is no longer labeled “Volume I” and “Volume II” but are now Volume III and IV. Thus The Aftermath becomes Volume V and The Unknown War Volume VI. All are bound in medium blue cloth blocked gilt on top board and spines. Dust jackets, printed red, black and light blue on white paper, display some of the internal illustrations, and each contains the subtitle: THE FIRST WORLD WAR AS CHURCHILL SAW IT. Interestingly, the title page verso indicates that Churchill renewed his copyright in 1951.
Identifying first impressions: The codes mentioned in the following notes are Scribners, taken from versos of the title page versos; they help to identify first impressions, although I strongly suspect that Volumes III-VI were never reprinted. The complete work went out of print in the early 1970s; it seems reasonable to believe that Volume I only, or possibly Volume II, saw reprints to maintain full sets in stock.
Volume I: Published at $7.50 in January 1963, coded “A1.63[MH]”; second impression August 1965, coded “B8.65[MH]”; third impression February 1970, coded “C2.709[MH].”
Volume II: Published at $7.50 in August 1963, coded A8.63[MH]; no reprints examined.
Volume III: Published January 1964 at $7.50 simultaneously with Volume IV. Coded A-1.64 [MH].
Volume IV: Published January 1964 at $7.50 simultaneously with Volume III. Coded A-1.64[MH].
Volume V: Published July 1964 at $7.50 simultaneously with Volume VI. Coded A7.64[MH].
Volume VI: Published July 1964 at $7.50 simultaneously with Volume V. Coded A7.64[MH].
Except for The Great War, which was a textual abridgment, this was the first illustrated edition of The World Crisis. That is the chief thing it has to recommend it. The books themselves, offprinted from the Scribners originals, are shorter, squatter, and bound in a cheap blue material which doesn’t seem to hold up well. Even jacketed copies often have a soiled, rumpled appearance, and the dust jackets are usually faded or grotty. Until the Easton Press Edition, this set was hotly sought after, but its value has declined somewhat.
First Paperback Abridged Edition
Cohen A69.17 / ICS A31be
Publisher: Landsborough Publications Ltd., London, 1960
This thick “Four Square Book” reprints the Abridged Edition for the first time as a paperback. The cover portrays Churchill and a war memorial, the back cover the Cenotaph in London. 958 pages, illustrated with maps, published at 7/6. A second and third impression were issued, both in 1964.
Mentor Paperback Abridged Edition
Cohen A69.18 / ICS A31bf
Publisher: New English Library, London, 1968
Two volumes Reprinted from plates of the Four Square paperback (pagination identical throughout) but divided into two volumes of 496 and 460 pages. The covers portray a white sculpted head of Churchill against a blue (Vol. 1) or green (Vol. 2) background. Published at 10/6 in a blue and green slipcase.
Easton Press Limited Edition
Cohen 69.19 ICS A31af
Publisher: The Easton Press, Norwalk, Conn., 1991
“My finest hour,” reports Richard Langworth, “bibliographically speaking, was when the Easton Press asked my help in designing a new limited edition of the original World Crisis for their series of elegant leatherbound classics of literature. It was carte blanche to create the ultimate set, the World Crisis I would take with me if confined to a desert island. Like a boy turned loose in a sweet shop I specified the best text (Thornton Butterworth’s First English Edition, with its novel shoulder notes and beautiful folding maps), coupled with the best illustrations (Scribners, from their postwar edition). Easton Press added an elaborate binding in leather and gilt with raised spine bands, gilt page edges and silk page markers, and priced the new set so low that the value of first editions was cut by half—although they have since recovered. From the bookseller standpoint I had committed a kind of hara-kiri…but many more people now own The World Crisis.
“With the exception of the tacky bookplates, which are thankfully laid-in (and please throw them away), the Easton Press produced a good aesthetic achievement for the money. While not as perfect as classic morocco leather bindings, the pigskin boards are strong and durable and the quality of the offprinting is high. Easton’s full color reprints of the original folding maps—including the fine folding map at the end of The Eastern Front—are, if anything, better than the originals.
There’s always a nit, however, and it is my fault. When recommending the use of Scribners postwar illustrations, I forgot that the original Eastern Front itself contained eight illustrations, including the frontispiece. Easton, with wads of new Scribner photos to insert, naturally left them out. But I omitted to remind them also to omit the original illustration list from page 13—so there it sits, directing the reader to plates that don’t exist!
“Easton’s price was originally only $260—hundreds less than any complete set then available. The first printing quickly sold out, but they have been reissued periodically, using an improved, more supple but still pigskin binding.
Second American Abridged & Revised Edition
Cohen A69.20 / ICS A31bg
Publisher: Charles Scribners Sons, New York, 1992
Subtitled “An Abridgement of the Classic 4-Volume History of World War I.” Greatly anticipated (because the Abridged Edition had been out of print in hardback over 40 years) this recent production proved to be a disappointment. Cheaply bound in quarter cloth and cardboard, it was offprinted from an earlier Scribners Edition, but the elaborate and beautiful fold-out maps were either eliminated or reduced to crudely drawn replicas. Also, the jacket photo of Churchill as First Lord of the Admiralty has been poorly colored and all the medal colors are wrong. This book provides the lyrics, but not the music. Only those demanding completeness need acquire it; others will be happier with Macmillan editions. Published at $35; simultaneously published by Maxwell Macmillan of Canada at C$45. 880 pages
Barnes & Noble Edition
Cohen A69.21 / ICS A31k
Publisher: Barnes & Noble Inc., New York, 1993
The chain booksellers Barnes & Noble have done Winston Churchill many services, producing cheap copies of numerous books by and about him over recent years. One of their latest was this fine offprint of the two-volume Odhams Edition, bound in half black cloth and stamped gilt on the spines, sold in a black, heavy cardboard slipcase. Only available from Barnes & Noble, at the bargain price of $29.95/£19, it remains in print at this writing.
In 1995, the Churchill Center presented a certificate of appreciation to the President of Barnes & Noble for his efforts in keeping Churchill in print, along with copies of The Aftermath and The Eastern Front, which we hoped he would consider for reprinting alongside this work, thus creating a complete World Crisis that would certainly sell for under $100/£60. After months of silence he sent them back; he did not even want them as gifts? The Churchill Center duly produced its own reprints: see below.
Note: THE UNKNOWN WAR, “Hodder & Stoughton Edition”
(Formerly ICS A31i)
This work is mentioned by Woods (page 55), who describes it as a cheap edition published in 1941 at 6/ ($1.50). Since it has never been encountered among the publisher’s records or hundreds of copies examined by dealers and collectors, I doubt very much that it ever existed.
Bound Volumes from the “Collected Works”
Navy boards blocked blind on top boards and gilt on spines with main title, subtitle, author’s name, five or six stars indicating volume, and the name of Thornton Butterworth, the original publisher. Both are reset, based on the original Thornton Butterworth text, leftover from the 1974-75 collected edition (and, as a result, printed on 500-year archival paper, but thinner than the originals). Note that The Eastern Front contains all the original photos and illustrations, save for the elaborate folding map following the index.
A bookseller colleague salvaged leftover “Collected Works” sheets and bound them as replicas of the original Thornton Butterworth cases—down even to the publisher’s name in gilt on the spines: the first appearance of Thornton Butterworth since 1940. Although another colleague laughingly called this “an act of bibliographic obfuscation,” the books cannot be mistaken for first editions. The internals bear “Collected Works” markings, being entitled Volume XI (The Aftermath) and Volume XII (The Eastern Front) from that 34-volume collection.
Woods (page 51) mentions some but not all of the following; by “Yugoslavian” he apparently means the Serbo-Croat edition.
Danish: DEN STORE KRIG (2 vols.)
Translation of The Great War, published by Hasselbalch: Copenhagen 1935. Only 89 of the original 98 chapters were published, originally in 33 separate parts. The parts were later bound in two thick quarto (8 1/2 x 11 1/2″) volumes bound in half brown leather, half blue leather and, say some Danes, in wrappers. Elaborately illustrated with 38 color plates of world leaders, each tipped onto a heavy backing page. Though pagination differs, black and white illustrations are the same as in the Norwegian Edition. 1576 pages. Books came in specially designed cardboard boxes.
Dutch: DRIE JAAR WERELDBRAND 1916-1918
A thin abridgment of Volume III, published in rose wrappers printed black with a photo of the author by De Telegraaf: Amsterdam 1927. 102 pages, illustrated, plus wrappers.
Finnish: MAAILMANSODAN JALKISATO
Translation of The Aftermath, published by W. S. Oberstrom: Porvossa, Finland, 1929.
French: LA CRISE MONDIALE (4 vols.)
Published by Payot: Paris in grey wrappers, consisting of the following volumes: Tome I 1911-1914 (1925), Tome II 1915 (1926), Tome III 1916/18 (1930) and Tome IV 1919 (1931). 1,946 pages. This work had several impressions but is usually found in well worn condition at low prices. Glassine wrappers often found with this work are not original; French booksellers put this on everything.
German: WELTKRISIS (4 vols. in 5)
Published by Koehler (1924-26) and Amalthea (1928-31) in four volumes and five parts: 1911-1914 (1924), Zweiter Band 1915 (1926), 1916/18 (2 vols., 1928) and Nach Dem Kriege (The Aftermath) (1931). An interesting set: the font is old style German; Volumes I and II came bound and unbound; the 1916-1918 pair is known in deep green and dark blue cloth. Nach Dem Kriege is found only in large card wrappers.
German: DIE WELT KRISE 1911-1918 (2 vols.)
Abridged edition, published by Verlag am Stutz Herdeg: Zurich 1947, bound in dark blue cloth; grey dust jacket with white titles.
Italian: LA CRISI MONDIALE (4 vols. in 5)
Volumes I and II published by Società Anonima Poligrafica Italiana in Rome; Volumes III and IV published by Tipo-Litografia della R. Accademia Navale in Livorno. The four volumes in five parts were as follows: Vol I 1911-1914 (1929), Vol II 1915 (1930), Vol III 1916-1918 (2 vols., 1930) and Vol IV Il Dopoguerra (The Aftermath) (1931).
Norwegian: VERDENSKRIGENS HISTORIE (2 vols.)
The Great War, published by J. W. Cappelen: Oslo 1935-36; first published in separate parts bound in cream illustrated card wrappers printed red; later beautifully bound. This is the most richly produced of the foreign translations: two thick quarto (8 1/2 x 11 1/2″) volumes bound in half crimson leather blocked gilt with spine bands and contrasting cloth boards. Profusely illustrated in black and white with 20 color plates, each tipped onto a heavy backing page. Illustrations (but not pagination) identical to the Danish Edition. 1440 pages; 95 of the original 98 chapters are published. If you wish to own only one representative foreign translation from The World Crisis, this should be it. (An alternate is the Danish Edition.)
Portuguese: AS MINHAS MEMORIAS
Published by Pereira: Lisbon 1941. Likely a multi-volume set using the Odhams 1911-1918 text; three volumes have been discovered covering 1911-14 and 1915.
Serbo-Croat: SVETSKA KRIZA 1911-1918
Abridged edition published in Zagreb, Yugoslavia, 1936.
Spanish: LA CRISIS MUNDIAL 1911-1918
Abridged edition published by Los Libros de Nuestro Tiempo: Barcelona 1944.
Swedish: VÄRLDSKRIGEN 1911-1918 (1 & 2 vols.)
Abridged edition published by Skoglund: Stockholm 1931. Offered in orange card wrappers or as a single volume bound in blue cloth.
Swedish: DET STORA KRIGET (3 vols.)
The Great War, published by Skoglund: Stockholm 1935 (Vols. 1 & 2) and 1936 (Vol. 3); first published in nine slim softbound volumes priced at 4.5 krona, or four thicker volumes. These were later bound in half mottled red-brown or tan and dark green leather and plain or marbled cloth. At 7 3/4 x 10 1/2″, smaller in size than the Danish/Norwegian versions but stretched out to three volumes, the Swedish Edition contains its own set of black and white photos, no colour plates and 95 of the original 98 Great War chapters. The volumes originally sold for 26 krona each; in Sweden today, a bound set costs over $200/£120, but sets on the American secondhand market cost much less because there is little demand. Recommended for its unique photos.
Combined Work: SEKYE INMOOL TAE HOI KOROK (Korean)
Literally “The Great Memoirs of Our World”). Taken from the abridged texts of The World Crisis and The Second World War. Published by Korean Publishing Corp., Seoul: 1989, 325pp.
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