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THE SECOND WORLD WAR Leatherbound Presentation Set

-Signed and Inscribed by Winston Churchill to “Pug” Ismay-


First American & English Editions

By: Winston S. Churchill

Houghton Mifflin & Cassell and Co. [Boston & London]

Biblio: (Cohen A240.1(I).a & .4[II-VI].a) (Woods A123)

16mo (Maps, diagrams and tables throughout)

Hardcover [Navy blue leather]

Item Number: 203448

Collector's Guide

The Second World War, also known as Winston Churchill’s War Memoirs, won Churchill  the Nobel Prize for literature in 1953. Published in six volumes that appeared over six years, the books each came out first in the U.S. under the following titles: THE GATHERING STORM (Volume I/1948), THEIR FINEST HOUR (Volume II/1949), THE GRAND ALLIANCE (Volume III/1950), THE HINGE OF FATE (Volume IV/1950), CLOSING THE RING (Volume V/1951) and TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY (Volume VI/1953).

The ensuing English editions, issued within months of the American, contained numerous corrections and even a few additional maps. The English edition is therefore considered more definitive, though today the American edition may be rarer. The set was simultaneously published by the Book-of-the-Month-Club in America, printed on the same presses as the first editions, and thus can easily be confused with them. An excellent one-volume abridgment was published in 1959; largely the work of Churchill’s research assistant, Denis Kelly, though Churchill did contribute an interesting epilogue covering the years 1945-1957.


This remarkable leatherbound Presentation set, is signed and inscribed by Winston Churchill in ink on the front free endpaper to his most important military aide during World War II, Major-General Hastings “Pug” Ismay: ”To Ismay from Winston Churchill.” Beneath this inscription, Churchill has penned one of his signature doodles of a “pug” dog.

The books are all in very good condition though they have faded variably. Volume I is the American first edition. Volumes II-VI are English first editions. All volumes are bound in crushed blue Morocco leather, with gilt fore-edges and five raised spine bands in gilt-edged-compartments; Volume I bound by Sangorski & Sutcliffe; Volumes II-VI by Morrell, London. The bindings are just lightly rubbed, with variable fading. The contents are fine, with light toning to some page edges.

Laid into Volumes III and V after the front free endpapers are the original pre-printed holograph-styled presentation notes that Churchill’s staff sent out along with these books: “With all good wishes from Winston S. Churchill.”

HASTINGS (LORD) ISMAY(1887-1965) was appointed Secretary of the Committee of Imperial Defence in 1938, after a distinguished military career that had begun in India, where Ismay acknowledged Churchill’s early colonial war reportage as his powerful role model. When Churchill became Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, he chose Ismay as his chief military assistant and staff officer. Ismay served Churchill as a critical intermediary to the Chiefs of Staff Committee and accompanied him everywhere throughout the war. According to John Colville, “Churchill owed more, and admitted that he owed more” to Ismay “than to anybody else, military or civilian, in the whole of the war.” Ismay’s name appears in all volumes of this work.