While the Nazis were burning hundreds of millions of books across Europe, America printed and shipped 140 million books to its troops. The story of how the books were received, how they connected soldiers with authors, and how an army of librarians and publishers lifted spirits and built a new democratic audience of readers is as inspiring today as it was then.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
“Heartwarming.” — New York Times
“Whether or not you’re a book lover, you’ll be moved.” — Entertainment Weekly
“A readable, accessible addition to World War II literature [and] a book that will be enjoyed by lovers of books about books.” — Boston Globe
“Four stars [out of four] . . . A cultural history that does much to explain modern America.” — USA Today
When America entered World War II in 1941, we faced an enemy that had banned and burned 100 million books. 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 rucksacks in every theater of war. These Armed Services Editions 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 helped rescue The Great Gatsby from obscurity and made Betty Smith, author of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, into a national icon. When Books Went to War is the inspiring story of the Armed Services Editions, and a treasure for history buffs and book lovers alike.
“A thoroughly engaging, enlightening, and often uplifting account . . . I was enthralled and moved.” — Tim O’Brien, author of The Things They Carried
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