When Books Went to War

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When Books Went to War

The Stories That Helped Us Win World War II

Molly Guptill Manning, Bernadette Dunne


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When America entered World War II in 1941, we faced an enemythat had banned and burned over 100 million books and caused fearful citizensto hide or destroy many more. Outraged librarians launched a campaign to sendfree books to American troops and gathered 20 million hardcover donations. In1943 the War Department and the publishing industry stepped in with anextraordinary program: 120 million small, lightweight paperbacks for troops tocarry 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 rememberedtoday. Soldiers read them while waiting to land at Normandy, in hellishtrenches in the midst of battles in the Pacific, in field hospitals, and onlong bombing flights. They wrote to the authors, many of whom responded toevery letter. They helped rescue TheGreat Gatsby from obscurity. They made Betty Smith, author of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, into anational icon. When Books Went to Waris an inspiring story for history buffs and book lovers alike.