Second World War


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CHURCHILL, Winston. The Second World War: The Gathering Storm; Their Finest Hour; The Grand Alliance; The Hinge of Fate; Closing the Ring; Triumph and Tragedy. London: Cassell, 1949-1954. Six volumes. Octavo, original black cloth, original dust jackets.

Volumes II-VI first editions, Volume I expanded second edition, presentation/association copies, of Churchill's WWII masterpiece, part history and part memoir, written after he lost reelection as Prime Minister, inscribed in Volumes I, III, and IV in 1951 to close friend Richard Rhys, 9th Baron Dynevor; with a 1951 inscription to Rhys tipped in to Volume II.

The six volumes of Churchill's masterpiece were published separately between 1948 and 1954. "The Second World War is a great work of literature, combining narrative, historical imagination and moral precept in a form that bears comparison with that of the original master chronicler, Thucydides. It was wholly appropriate that in 1953 Churchill was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature" (Keegan, 175). With the Second World War, Churchill "pulled himself back from humiliating defeat in 1945, using all his skills as a writer and politician to make his fortune, secure his reputation, and win a second term in Downing Street" (Reynolds, xxiii)."Winston himself affirmed that 'this is not history: this is my case" (Holmes, 285). Churchill was re-elected to the post of Prime Minister in 1951. Although preceded by the American editions, the English editions are generally preferred for their profusion of diagrams, maps, and facsimile documents. Volumes II to VI are first editions; Volume I is the expanded and revised "new" or second edition, published one year after the first edition, in a first edition dust jacket. Cohen A240.4. Woods A123b. Langworth, 254. Inscriptions in Volumes I and III read, "Inscribed for Richard Rhys by Winston S. Churchill, 1951. Volume IV's inscription, signed in the year of publication, reads, "To Richard Rhys by Winston S. Churchill, 1951." Volume II has Churchill's inscription tipped in to the half title: "Inscribed for Richard Rhys by Winston S. Churchill, 1951," and also has Rhys' pencil ownership signature, as do Volumes I and III. Richard Rhys, 9th Baron Dynevor, a Welsh aristocrat and patron of the arts, was a theater producer and a publisher. A founder of the Merlin Theatre group, Rhys was also a director of Black Raven Press. In addition to Rhys, Churchill knew many members of his family circle.

Interiors fine; some spotting and rubbing to original cloth. Light wear to extremities of bright dust jackets with light toning to spines (as often) and one mark of soiling to the lower front panel of Volume III dust jacket. An overall near-fine set with wonderful provenance.

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