In this first of what will probably be five volumes, Mr. Churchill initiates his monumental work on the origins and course of the recent conflict -- to him "the unnecessary war." This is more than an autobiography and less than a history, for the account is personal and despite the author's stellar rôle in the drama, the record he sets forth is of necessity incomplete and not all parts of it may stand the test of historical criticism. The present volume deals with the inter-war period and Churchill's tenure at the Admiralty from September 3, 1939, to May 10, 1940, and in it he indulges in a few well-merited "I-told-you-so's," though his narrative as a whole is magnanimous toward lesser men. He has woven much new information into his story and has inserted a quantity of documentary and other source material. His colorful, majestic and slightly archaic prose recalls a better and more spacious age.