Why England Slept


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Item#: 126968 price:$16,000.00

Why England Slept
Why England Slept
Why England Slept
Why England Slept


KENNEDY, John F. Why England Slept. New York: Wilfred Funk, 1940. Octavo, original red cloth, dust jacket supplied from another copy of the same edition. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $16,000.

First edition, sixth printing, of John F. Kennedy's first book, issued four months after the first printing, of JFK's striking analysis of Britain's lack of preparation for WWII, inscribed by him on the front free endpaper to his good friend and long-term neighbor Nancy Tenney Lloyd, "To Ten from Ken!" and further inscribed on the rear pastedown, "Ten: It's my hope that this book will interest you—as it is pregnant with significance as are you."

Published the year JFK graduated from Harvard, Why England Slept was an expansion of his senior thesis. The title is a variation on the title of Churchill's While England Slept, issued about two years before. Kennedy's work focuses on why England was so poorly prepared for WWII and why its leaders settled upon the disastrous policies of appeasement. The book served as a warning to those in America who felt that appeasing Hitler and staying out of the war were viable options. It became a bestseller and went through several printings in its first year. "For all Americans who are wide awake enough to read… this book is invaluable… [It is] a remarkable book in many respects… If John Kennedy is characteristic of the younger generation—and I believe he is—many of us would be happy to have the destinies of this Republic handed over to his generation at once. This book has the rare and immensely appealing quality of combining factuality and breadth of understanding with the truest instincts of patriotism" (Foreword, Henry Luce).

While this book is a sixth printing from October, 1940, Kennedy likely inscribed it in 1943 when recipient Nancy Tenney Lloyd (later Nancy Tenney Coleman) was pregnant with her first child, who was to be the godchild of Kennedy's sister, Kathleen "Kick" Kennedy. Nancy Tenney Lloyd had been a long-time neighbor to the Kennedys at their Hyannis Port residence and was one of Kathleen Kennedy's closest friends. In the recently published White House by the Sea, Tenney described herself as "I was like one of the [Kennedy] children." Kick and Nancy referred to each other as "Ken and Ten," and it is clear from this inscription that JFK Jr. also picked up the nickname. At the time, Nancy was married to Navy pilot Demarest Lloyd, Jr. and was expecting her first child, Tangley C. Lloyd. This volume was likely inscribed during Kennedy's service in the Naval Reserve during World War II and just prior to his heroic command of PT-109 in August 1943. Tangley Lloyd was born in April 1944, and tragically her father would be killed in action just a few months later at the Battle of Saipan. Nancy would go on to marry Robert S. Coleman in 1947 and raise a family of six children in Greenwich, CT, but she remained in touch with the Kennedy family, particularly Rose Kennedy in her later years. Stated "Sixth Printing, October, 1940" on copyright page. Recipient's ink signature on front pastedown.

Slight rubbing to corners and ends of gently toned spine, a few faint stains to cloth. Wear to dust jacket, with shallow chipping along top edge, mostly at spine. A very good inscribed presentation-association copy.

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