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THE MEMOIRS OF GENERAL DE CAULAINCOURT, DUKE OF VICENZA, MASTER OF THE HORSE (Volume 1: 1812-1813 & Volume 2: 1814)
-Signed Presentation Set Inscribed by Winston Churchill to Field Marshall Alexander of Tunis]
1935 & 1938
Cassell & Co. [London]
8vo (642 pages & 441 pages)
Hardcover (with Dust Jackets) [Brick Red cloth]
Item Number: 203932
This seminal two-volume Napoleonic history is SIGNED and inscribed in ink on the front free endpaper of Volume I: ”To F.M. Alexander from Winston S. Churchill, July 5, 1945.”,/b>
July 5 was Polling Day in Great Britain. That morning, Churchill had worked in bed at No. 10 Annexe, according to Sir Martin Gilbert, then lunched with Field Marshall Alexander, at which time he presented Alexander with these books. A three week delay in announcing the election results had been agreed upon, to enable Servicemen to vote. On July 15, 1945, Churchill flew to Berlin for the Potsdam Conference. Ten days later, he flew home for the announcement that his Conservative party had lost the election in a landslide. The following day Churchill submitted his resignation as Prime Minister to the King.
Winston Churchill pursued a lifelong fascination with Napoleon. At one point in the 1930s, he began work on a biography of Napoleon. When he could not complete it, he turned the research into a screenplay that he hoped to make a starring vehicle for Charlie Chaplin. The film was never made, though Churchill did spend a notable evening pitching the idea to Chaplin in Hollywood.
This is a very good set, in unclipped dust jackets that exhibit moderate shelfwear, edge-chipping, and some darkening along the spines. The contents are fine, with very light, scattered foxing to the signature page. The bookplate of Alexander of Tunis is present on both front pastedowns. Laid-into Volume I is a slip of notepaper headed: “Lord’s Cricket Ground, London, N.W.8” that has has been autographed in ink: “Alexander of Tunis.”
GENERAL DE CAULAINCOURT originally served as French Ambassador to Russia. He traveled in the same carriage with Napoleon on his way to Moscow, and in these memoirs, provides an extraordinarily intimate (and not always flattering) “close-up,” concluding in Volume II with Napoleon’s 1814 abdication and failed suicide attempt.
FIELD MARSHALL HAROLD ALEXANDER, 1st Earl Alexander of Tunis (1891-1969) oversaw the final evacuation of Dunkirk as Commander of the British Expeditionary Force, before becoming Commander-in-Chief in North Africa and commanding the 15th Army Group for the capture of Sicily. He was ultimatley made Supreme Allied Commander Mediterranean. Alexander had been educated, just as Churchill had, first at Harrow and then at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He was indispensable to Churchill and their relationship was close. “He was Churchill’s beau ideal of a soldier,” noted Churchill’s private secretary, Sir John Colville, “and the admiration was mutual.”