When Books Went to War is a WWII social history perfect for book lovers. During the war years book publishers, libraries, and the American public responded to this great conflict by donating millions of free books to US troops across the world. Early in the war the Victory Book Campaign collected millions of books in nation-wide book drives. The Council on Books in Wartime, an association of publishers and booksellers, worked with the US government to produce millions of pocket-size paperback editions.
Molly Guptill Manning explains how good books saved GIs from homesickness and fought Nazi ideology at the same time. Hitler's regime sought to conquer minds through book burnings, the destruction of European libraries, and the disbursement of propaganda. American publishers and librarians promoted nonfiction books as a way to inform this country's citizen soldiers. Thought-provoking novels displayed the freedom found in democratic society. Indeed, the CBW was instrumental in combating censorship at home when Congress enacted a law limiting the kind of books sent to the troops.
Reading books lifted the spirits of war-weary soldiers and sailors. This was a relief to the individual men, and the increase in morale improved the fighting capabilities of American forces overall. Manning shares numerous letters written by GIs who were beyond thankful to receive their Armed Services Editions. In this excellent read Manning reveals books' importance to the war effort, while conveying the personal feelings of those involved: the passion of publishers and librarians and the psychology of men at war.
See Kirkus' book review.
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