July 12, 2011

Does "Following the Flag" Also Apply to Civil War Books?

In the world of collecting first editions, serious collectors want the first printing from the country where the book in question made its first appearance. This is especially the case for any fiction genre, whether its literary fiction, science fiction, mysteries, etc. So if collectible author "A" has a new novel that appeared in England a week or so prior to its publication in the U.S., that British edition is the one many, if not most collectors will want. A well-known example is the Ernest Hemingway novel Across the River and Into the Trees, which was published by Jonathan Cape in England three days prior to its publication by Scribners here in the states.

If you consider yourself a Civil War first edition book collector, do such "rules" matter to you? Let me know, as I'd love to read your opinion on this.

My question is prompted by the recent publication of A World on Fire: Britain's Crucial Role in the American Civil War by acclaimed British historian Amanda Foreman. This much-hyped, 1008-page epic has just been published in the states by Random House to stellar reviews and may very well become the standard work on the subject.

Since the author is British, I went to Amazon.uk to see if the book had been published there. Lo and behold, I discovered that it was first published in England on Nov. 4, 2010 by Allen Lane Publishers with the slightly different title A World on Fire: An Epic History of Two Nations Divided. So for me at least, that's the edition I will buy. Does such minutiae matter to any other book-loving Civil Warriors, or is such hair-splitting limited to the fiction genres?

UPDATE Aug. 21 - My book has arrived from England and to my surprise, it's a signed copy!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I seek the first printing of the first edition. I collect civil war titles because of the content and the challenge of building a good library. I seek first printing copies because they are usually the best quality and for the additional challenge of finding them. For rarer titles also for the likelihood they will hold their value or perhaps even gain in value.

Also, thank you for your blog. I enjoy it and I regret not letting you know before. Also thank you specifically for noting this book.