YOUNG WINSTON’S WARS
(Cohen A282) (Woods A143)
Sometimes thought to be an extracted work like Frontiers and Wars, this book presents entirely new material and marks Churchill’s posthumous return to the ranks of current authors. Undoubtedly, its publication was influenced by the appearance of the film “Young Winston,” starring Simon Ward. (The Times Literary Supplement called it the “Book of the Film.”) Compiled by bibliographer Frederick Woods, Young Winston’s Wars comprises Churchill’s original dispatches as a war correspondent covering the same three military campaigns as his first four war books: the Northwest Frontier of India, the Sudan, and South Africa.
Naming Churchill (along with Stevens and Russell) “among the most brilliant, involved and fluent” war correspondents, Woods’ Introduction is critical but not un-admiring: “Churchill’s war dispatches were very much of their time. He wrote passionately of the Queen, the Empire and the Flag; yet he rarely wrote jingoistically. His writing was informed with humanity and charity (except when he was attacking hypocrisy or what he considered to be official ineptitude, and he displayed that respect—even admiration—for a good enemy that characterized the days when chivalry and cavalry were synonymous….After the battle of Omdurman he visited the field and saw the thousands of Dervish dead. While relishing the victory over what he saw as feudal tyranny, he nevertheless paid tribute to the twisted corpses….Emotions about Churchill can still run high…but on an objective basis, it must be conceded that his war dispatches during this limited period rank among his greatest writings. When it is considered that he was still in his early twenties when he wrote them, the achievement should be seen in true perspective.”
-Richard M. Langworth
From the Reviews:
“It is well to be reminded that the future winner of a Nobel Prize for literature began by writing for the papers. He laid thereby the foundations of his literary style, his political career and his fortune. Within six months of the date of the last despatch printed here he was MP for Oldham and was able to write to his mother, on the first day of the new century, ‘I am very proud of the fact that there is not one person in a million who at my age could have earned £10,000 without any capital in less than two years.’
“In return his editors received a series of remarkable documents, quite out of the ordinary run of correspondence, which can be read with pleasure today even by those who care little for their subjects. The Churchillian style was already well developed. He cared about good writing and would never give less than his best even when he was writing ‘on the ground in a tent temperature of 115 degrees’….Perhaps the most memorable passages in this collection are those in which he celebrates the courage and deplores the losses of the Sudanese at Omdurman and applauds the skill and resolution of the Afrikaners. Already in his youth he was preaching the virtues of resolution in war and magnanimity in victory.”
–The Times Literary Supplement, 15 September 1972
Comments and Appraisal
Leo Cooper’s military books are avidly sought by collectors of militaria as well as Churchill, and demand has begun rapidly to raise the price of first editions. The alternative is the second impression, which of course costs less.
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Cohen A282.1 / ICS A143a
Publisher: Leo Cooper Ltd., London, 1972
Dark blue cloth blocked gilt on spine with title, publisher’s logo and name. 8vo, 384 pages numbered (i)-(xxx) and (1)-350 (+4) plus two sheets of illustrations printed on coated paper between pages 130-31 and 160-61. Seven maps, integral with the pages. Dust jackets are printed black, red and yellow with multicolour illustration of the Omdurman charge from “Young Winston” starring Simon Ward. Published 20 July 1972 at £3.50 ($9.80). Two impressions, the first of 5,000 copies.
Identifying First Editions: no mention of a reprint on the verso of the title page; the reprint states, “Reprinted September 1972.”
Cohen A282.3 / ICS A143b
Publisher: The Viking Press, Inc., New York, 1972
Offprinted (or printed from English plates) in the United States, this volume’s pagination matches that of the English Edition, but it is slightly wider thanks to more generous page margins. Bound in olive cloth blocked gilt and black on spine. Dust jackets are printed blue, black and red with a black and white photograph of Churchill in the South Africa Light Horse uniform on the front face. One impression, published at $8.95.
This volume is common in America and tends to cost less than the Cooper Edition.
First Paperback Edition
Cohen A282.2 / ICS A143c
Publisher: Sphere Books Ltd., London, 1972
A paperback of 440 pages plus four pages of illustrations on coated paper, first published at 50p ($1.40) to coincide with the release of the film “Young Winston.” Identifying first editions: the first edition is printed in shades of brown with scenes from “Young Winston” superimposed on a photograph of Churchill c.1900; the spine is predominately tan and the UK price (back wrapper) is 50p. A later, slightly larger issue has a multicolour film still (Young Winston firing at the armoured train ambush) with the title printed red, the spine mainly red, and the UK price (back wrapper) of 60p. Despite its obviously later appearance, this second issue is labeled “First Sphere Edition” on the title page verso, like its predecessor.
Readers Union Issue
Cohen A282.4 / ICS A143d
Publisher: Readers Union Ltd, Newton Abbot, Devon, 1975
A book club issue offprinted from the Cooper Edition; the only change aside from the title page and verso is the location of the photo pages: all between pages 66-67. Bound in black paper-covered boards blocked silver on spine (running down). A curious error: the byline at the spine top reads “Kenneth Warren.” The dust jacket is printed brown and turquoise on white stock with the Light Horse photo of Churchill on the front face. This is a good edition for the reader who is not a collector.
WINSTON S. CHURCHILL WAR CORRESPONDENT 1895-1900: New Revised Edition
Cohen A282.5 / ICS A143e
Publisher: Brassey’s (UK) Ltd., London, 1992
Bound in black cloth blocked gilt on spine (“Woods,” title and “Brassey’s,” reading down. 8vo, 388 pages numbered (i)-xxxii and (1)-355 (+1). Dust jacket printed turquoise and sepia on white stock; the Light Horse photograph takes up most of the front face. Published at £17.95, simultaneously published in the United States at $29.95. One impression.
Entirely reset, this important new edition adds Churchill’s five dispatches from Cuba in 1895, which Woods omitted from the First Edition because Randolph Churchill had recently included them in the proximate Companion Volume to the Official Biography. There is also a new Foreword by our author’s grandson, Winston S. Churchill. There are two new maps but illustrations are omitted.
Fine copies are certainly worth seeking out. This edition is much in demand for its superior appearance and the additional dispatches on Cuba. Although the latter are available in the Companion Volumes to the Official Biography, and copies of the earlier editions are plentiful, this is the only really complete collection of our author’s war dispatches.
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