"EVERY ACT, WHETHER OF WAR OR ADMINISTRATION, IS INTENDED TO BE FINAL": FIRST EDITION OF CHURCHILL'S IMPORTANT SECOND BOOK, THE RIVER WAR
CHURCHILL, Winston. The River War, An Historical Account of the Reconquest of the Soudan. London: Longmans, Green, 1899. Two volumes. Thick octavo, original gilt-stamped navy cloth. Housed in a pair of custom chemise and together in a clamshell box. $11,500.
First edition, first printing, of Churchill's rare second book, one of only 2000 copies printed, in original cloth.
Churchill served in the 21st Lancers during Lord Kitchener's campaign on the Upper Nile in the late 1890s and was a participant there in the last great cavalry charge of the British Army. "Hopping on a ferry, and not bothering to trouble his commanding officer in distant South India for leave, Winston turned up in the Abbasya barracks in Cairo on August 2, 1898, and joined the 21st's A Squadron. He was fully outfitted, had bought a horse, and was, most important of all, equipped with a commission from the Morning Post to send dispatches at £15 a time" (Keegan, 46). Though only in his early 20s and a mere subaltern, Churchill had already developed an independence of thought that would serve him well in his later political career: "Far from accepting uncritically the superiority of British civilization, Churchill shows his appreciation for the longing for liberty among the indigenous inhabitants of the Sudan; but he finds their native regime defective in its inadequate legal and customary protection for the liberty of subjects. On the other hand, he criticizes the British army, and in particular its commander Lord Kitchener, for departing in its campaign from the kind of civilized respect for the liberty and humanity of adversaries that alone could justify British civilization and imperial rule over the Sudan" (Langworth, 27). This account includes 34 maps, 20 of which are printed in color and folding, and 58 illustrations, including tissue-guarded frontispieces, photogravure portraits, and numerous in-text illustrations. The maps and plans include various sections of the Nile, the Dervish Empire, etc. First printing, second state, with the final quotation mark after the words LONDON GAZETTE on page 459 of Volume II. Without original dust jackets, so rare as to be unobtainable. Cohen A2.1.b. Woods A2(a). Langworth, 27-30. Manuscript letter loosely inserted from publisher Adam Black (not the publisher of the present work) to General Lord Mark Kerr, dated 28 February 1894; ownership signature of Kerr in both volumes. Lord Kerr (1817-1900) was a British Army officer who served in the Crimean War and in India.
Occasional faint foxing to text, a few rubs to clean cloth, gilt bright. A near-fine copy with a nice British military provenance.