Cover image for When books went to war : the stories that helped us win World War II
Title:
When books went to war : the stories that helped us win World War II
Author:
Manning, Molly Guptill, 1980- , author.
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014.
Physical Description:
xv, 267 pages, 8 pages of unnumbered plates : illustrations ; 22 cm
Summary:
"When America entered World War II in 1941, [it] faced an enemy that had banned and burned over 100 million books and caused fearful citizens to hide or destroy many more. Outraged librarians launched a campaign to send free books to American troops and gathered 20 million hardcover donations. In 1943, the War Department and the publishing industry stepped in with an extraordinary program: 120 million small, lightweight paperbacks, for troops to carry in their pockets and their rucksacks, in every theater of war. Comprising 1,200 different titles of every imaginable type, these paperbacks were beloved by the troops and are still fondly remembered today. Soldiers read them while waiting to land at Normandy; in hellish trenches in the midst of battles in the Pacific; in field hospitals; and on long bombing flights. They wrote to the authors, many of whom responded to every letter. They helped rescue The Great Gatsby from obscurity. They made Betty Smith, author of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, into a national icon. When Books Went to War is an inspiring story for history buffs and book lovers alike." -- Publisher's website.

Chronicles the joint effort of the U.S. government, the publishing industry, and the nation's librarians to boost troop morale during World War II by shipping more than one hundred million books to the front lines for soldiers to read during what little downtime they had.
Language:
English
Contents:
A phoenix will rise -- $85 worth of clothes, but no pajamas -- A landslide of books -- New weapons in the war of ideas -- Grab a book, Joe, and keep goin' -- Guts, valor, and extreme bravery -- Like rain in the desert -- Censorship and FDR's F --- th T -- m -- Germany's surrender and the godforsaken islands -- Peace at last -- Damned average raisers.
ISBN:
9780544535022

9780544570405
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

When America entered World War II in 1941, we faced an enemy that had banned and burned over 100 million books and caused fearful citizens to hide or destroy many more. Outraged librarians launched a campaign to send free books to American troops and gathered 20 million hardcover donations. In 1943, the War Department and the publishing industry stepped in with an extraordinary program: 120 million small, lightweight paperbacks, for troops to carry in their pockets and their rucksacks, in every theater of war.

Comprising 1,200 different titles of every imaginable type, these paperbacks were beloved by the troops and are still fondly remembered today. Soldiers read them while waiting to land at Normandy; in hellish trenches in the midst of battles in the Pacific; in field hospitals; and on long bombing flights. They wrote to the authors, many of whom responded to every letter. They helped rescue The Great Gatsby from obscurity. They made Betty Smith, author of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn , into a national icon. When Books Went to War is an inspiring story for history buffs and book lovers alike.


Author Notes

Molly Guptill Manning is the author of The Myth of Ephraim Tutt and several articles appearing in publications such as the Columbia Journal of Law and the Arts . She is an attorney for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York City.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Books mattered. As war machines rolled across Europe after 1939, Nazis shuttered libraries and burned books they deemed objectionable because of authorship or content. Then the U.S. began its own mobilization, early conscripts training with broomsticks for rifles. America's industry eventually supplied requisite war matériel, but soldiers and sailors needed weapons capable of fighting combat's psychological and spiritual stresses. Under the leadership of redoubtable librarian Althea Warren, the Victory Book Campaign rallied the nation's libraries, publishers, booksellers, and ordinary citizens, marshaling millions of volumes to send to front lines. Magazine publishers ran off issues on lightweight newsprint that could similarly be carried into foxholes. Manning has scoured archives to retrieve soldiers' touching accounts of the therapeutic, life-saving influence of stories that took their minds away from daily horrors. Servicemen loved these flimsy paperbacks, which they could slip into pockets and trade with one another. She also reports a less-savory tale of American politicians conniving to censor some titles. Includes bibliography of books published as Armed Services Editions and a partial list of authors the Nazis tried to suppress.--Knoblauch, Mark Copyright 2014 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Supplying American soldiers with reading material has long been a modest priority, but nothing compares to the massive, WWII operation that sent over 140 million books to U.S. troops. Manning (The Myth of Ephraim Tutt), an attorney for the U.S. Court of Appeals, begins this delightful history of a little-known aspect of the war in 1940, with America scrambling to build an army from scratch. Officers responsible for morale noticed that post libraries showed "circulation rates so staggering that it was a wonder the print had not been wiped clean from the pages." Grassroots campaigns produced an avalanche of donations, mostly hardcovers, appropriate for libraries but hopelessly bulky for a frontline soldier. In 1942, publishers put their heads together and Manning delivers an engrossing story of the result: a compact paperback designed to fit into a soldier's pocket. This legendary Armed Services Edition became "the most significant project in publishing history." Over 1,300 titles poured overseas to an enthusiastic reception, and "there was a book for every taste, whether a man preferred Sad Sack comics or Plato." The usual Congressional diehards aside, censorship was minimal. Manning's entertaining account will have readers nostalgic for that seemingly distant era when books were high priority. (Dec.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Manning (The Myth of Ephraim Tutt) here presents a marvelous story of the Armed Services Editions (ASE) of books that were distributed to GIs during World War II. The ASE plan ultimately gave away, between 1943 and 1947, nearly 123 million copies of 1,322 works. These special editions were smaller paperbacks that could be tucked in a pocket or folded inside a backpack. Manning's fascinating history covers the impact on the world of Nazi book burning, details of the inner workings of the national contribution to this important war effort, and interesting aspects of how the campaign was organized and operated. The author includes many excerpts from GI diaries and letters demonstrating how much it meant to the men to receive one of the books. Bernadette Dunne's solid, energetic reading nicely varies in the conveying of the personal anecdotes and sustains listener interest throughout. -VERDICT Manning's work is a shining testament that provides for book lovers an informative account of how reading literally saved the sanity of hundreds of thousands of soldiers. Note that the print edition contains an appendix of all the titles distributed during the war, which is lacking here. ["Highly readable and extremely appealing, this book is perfect for any bibliophile or historians interested in the stories from the home front," read the review of the Houghton Harcourt hc, LJ 11/15/14.]-Dale Farris, Groves, TX © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Table of Contents

Introductionp. xi
1 A Phoenix Will Risep. 1
2 $85 "Worth of Clothes, but No Pajamasp. 17
3 A Landslide of Booksp. 31
4 New Weapons in the War of Ideasp. 59
5 Grab a Book, Joe, and Keep Goin'p. 75
6 Guts, Valor, and Extreme Braveryp. 92
7 Like Rain in the Desertp. 113
8 Censorship and FDR's F - th T - mp. 133
9 Germany's Surrender and the Godforsaken Islandsp. 151
10 Peace at Lastp. 170
11 Damned Average Raisersp. 181
Afterwordp. 193
Acknowledgmentsp. 195
Appendixes
A Banned Authorsp. 198
B Armed Services Editionsp. 202
Notesp. 233
Indexp. 261