First edition, first printing of Why England Slept by John F. Kennedy.
Octavo, xxx, 252pp, . Red cloth boards, title stamped in white over blue, light wear to top edge of spine. First printing, with no additional printings mentioned on the copyright page. Solid text block, free of any marks or notations. Offsetting to endpapers, light dust along top edge of text block. (Newcomb 10) In publisher’s first state dust jacket, $2.00 price on front flap, blurb by Henry R. Luce on back panel and no mention of later printings on front panel. Chipping and light soiling to rear cover, closed tear to rear panel, faint toning to spine, a scarce dust jacket.
Why England Slept originated from John F. Kennedy’s senior thesis at Harvard University. Originally titled “Appeasement at Munich,” Kennedy’s work delved into the reasons for Britain’s policy of appeasement towards Nazi Germany in the lead-up to World War II. His primary focus was on the years 1937-1939. After graduating from Harvard, Kennedy sought to get his thesis published. With some editing and revisions, particularly to make it more accessible to the general public, the work was published under the title “Why England Slept” in 1940. The title change was an allusion to Winston Churchill’s earlier work, “While England Slept,” which reflected similar themes.