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A Roving Commission
New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1930. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. Churchill's extremely popular autobiography covers the years from his birth in 1874 to his first few years in Parliament. This is an unusually clean, bright, jacketed U.S. first edition first printing. Published in England as My Early Life, this is one of the few Churchill first editions for which the U.S. edition bears a different title than the British. Interestingly, A Roving Commission was the title proposed by Churchill himself and favored by his American publisher. One can hardly ask for more adventurous content. These were momentous and formative years for Churchill, including his time as a war correspondent and cavalry officer in theatres as varied as Cuba, northwest India, and sub-Saharan and southern Africa. This time contained a wide range of experiences in Churchill?s life. Not only was he developing as an author, publishing his first books, and making his first lecture tour of North America, but this was also the time of his capture and daring escape during the Boer War, which made him a celebrity and helped launch his political career. Churchill would take his seat in Parliament only weeks after the end of Queen Victoria's reign. A Roving Commission remains one of the most popular and widely read of all Churchill's books. And for good reason, as the work certainly ranks among the most charming and accessible of his many books. An original 1930 review likened it to a "beaker of Champagne." That effervescent charm endures; a more recent writer called it "a racy, humorous, self-deprecating classic of autobiography." To be sure, Churchill takes some liberties with facts and perhaps unduly lightens or over-simplifies certain events, but this is eminently forgivable and in keeping with the wit, pace, and engaging style that characterizes the book. The book sold very well at the time and has seen a great many editions since, many of them collectible in their own right, but of course a premium attaches to first editions, both British and U.S. Jacketed copies of the U.S. first edition are scarce. Even decent unjacketed copies are unusual. The red-orange cloth binding proved highly susceptible to fading and soiling and the fragile dust jacket proved highly vulnerable to wear and severe fading of the orange color, particularly on the jacket spine. Here is an especially fine copy in a very good plus first printing dust jacket. The red-orange binding retains vivid, entirely unfaded color and bright gilt. Notably, the spine is beautifully bright with no color shift save perhaps a hint at the base of the spine corresponding to short closed tears. The coarse cloth binding is tight, square, and remarkably clean with virtually no wear or soiling, sharp corners, and bright gilt. The contents are beautifully bright with only a hint of age-toning to the page edges. We find absolutely no spotting. Even the top and untrimmed fore edges are clean, with just a small amount of staining to the bottom edge. The sole previous ownership mark is a tiny Boston bookseller's sticker affixed to the lower left of the front free endpaper. The Scribner's "A" on the copyright page confirms a first edition, first printing. The dust jacket is unclipped, still bearing the original $3.50 front flap price. The jacket is also unusually clean and complete, for the edition, with only light soiling to the white portions of the spine and rear face. Spine presentation is quite good for the edition; the orange spine panel, typically faded to near-white, here retains respectable color and the only loss is fractional chipping to a maximum .125 inch depth at the spine head. We note light scuffing to the bright front face, and minor wear to the front hinge and extremities. The dust jacket is protected in a removable, archival quality clear cover. Bibliographic reference: Cohen A91.2.a, Woods/ICS A37(b.1), Langworth p. 134.
      [Bookseller: Churchill Book Collector]
Last Found On: 2016-10-10           Check availability:      Biblio    


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