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When Books Went to War: The Stories That Helped Us Win World War II (2014)

de Molly Guptill Manning

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MembrosResenhasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaConversas / Menções
7064423,785 (3.99)1 / 117
"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.… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 43 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
This book is about books. Books burned. Books saved. Books censored. It’s the story about the Armed Services Edition of books that fit in soldiers’ pockets so they could take and read them in foxholes and anywhere else. But the book is also about the Nazi book burnings, an attempt at censorship in the USA, and so much more. It’s an excellent audiobook but I want the book-book now so I can mark up the countless brilliant quotes. 5+ stars ( )
  KarenMonsen | Apr 25, 2021 |
This was really good! The author explores a side of World War II that I didn't even know existed. For what seems like a small and narrow topic, Manning manages to flesh out its importance and value for every page, including private accounts of men on the front lines and political and economic trouble back home. An excellent read! ( )
  mullinstreetzoo | Feb 12, 2021 |
I've run into ASEs a bunch while buying old books online, so I was somewhat familiar with the concept (also, through Books for Victory, which is where I heard about THIS book). I really enjoyed the execution, although my reading list is now quite a bit longer than it was before. Among many others, I think I'll have to get around to [b:Forever Amber|5368|Forever Amber |Kathleen Winsor|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1350464965s/5368.jpg|2522906] one of these days, just to know what the fuss was all about.

The appendix with the full print run of ASEs is also incredibly useful. ( )
  beautifulshell | Aug 27, 2020 |
Summary: This history of efforts to supply American servicemen in World War 2 with books.

The war against Adolph Hitler's Nazi Germany was not just a war of bullets and armies. It was a war of ideas and books. In 1933, in Berlin's Bebelplatz, thousands of books were burned. Books by Jews. Books by foreigners. Books that dissented from the views of Mein Kampf. As Nazi armies marched through Europe, they destroyed libraries, and millions of books.

As the United States slowly edged toward war, and then rapidly mobilized after Pearl Harbor, American leaders quickly came to realize that soldiers needed more than barracks and weapons, training and strategy. They needed ideas, and in the many idle hours between intense battles, they needed diversions. They needed books.

President Roosevelt put it well:

People die, but books never die. No man and no force can put thought in a concentration camp forever. No man and no force can take from the world the books that embody man's eternal fight against tyranny. In this war, we know books are weapons.

Molly Guptill Manning recounts the massive mobilization effort that put over 140 million books into the hands of Americans in the services, and the powerful impact those books had on those who received them.

While libraries existed on posts, those deployed often lacked greatly. The first response was the National Defense Book Campaign, organized by the American Library Association under the leadership of Althea Warren, director of the Los Angeles Public Library. She launched a national book donation drive with a goal of 10 million books. Eventually 18 million were collected in what became the Victory Book Campaign. However, not all the books were suitable for soldiers and most were heavy hardcovers, not idea for someone's pack or duffle.

Eventually this effort gave way to the American Services Editions, payed for by the military. Cost constraints combined with an effort of mass production of a number of editions led to adopting a paperback format, produced for roughly five cents a book. Each months, sets were sent out to all the service units. They consisted of classics, how to books, modern fiction, history, biography, sports. They were selected with an eye to soldiers interests. They fit in a soldiers pocket and were so popular that they were traded around until they fell apart

Manning recounts how deeply these were appreciated. Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was the all-time favorite, reminding so many soldiers of home. Soldiers could be found reading them on transports and in fox holes, wherever they could find a moments respite. Books weren't censored for points of view. Some were controversial, like Strange Fruit, an account of interracial marriage, or steamy, like Forever Amber. All of these kept soldiers morale up and reminded them for what they were fighting. Eventually, more books were produced than the Germans destroyed, some by those banned authors. In the end, books not only went to war, they won.

Most fascinating to me was how Manning connects this massive book effort with the massive influx of GIs into colleges after the war, and their seriousness about learning. She raises the question of whether the steady diet of good reading the soldiers experienced during the war (which may not have been true of them before) whet their appetites for serious study that "wrecked the curve" for other undergraduates.

I write this review during "stay at home" orders during a pandemic. This is a very different war. We act collectively by isolating. It will be interesting to see the role books play during this war, when so many other forms of entertainment are available on all our devices. Yet books have a power to form ideas, to capture imagination, to re-fashion our world as we enter that of a book. The stories evoked in my minds eye are always richer than the rendering of another. I know the importance of the idea of relief to those on the edge, but I wonder if for some, the chance to have a collection of new titles delivered each month would be a welcome gift. Should there be an equivalent to Dolly Parton's Imagination Library for adults? Will our "time out" be long enough to foster a lifelong love for this literature?

Perhaps someday, someone will write a book of this time titled When Books Sustained a Nation. One an only hope. ( )
  BobonBooks | Apr 6, 2020 |
I think most book lovers and avid readers would enjoy this short book on the importance of books in the Second World War. Special American Service Editions of books were printed and shipped by the tens of thousands to American soldiers all over the world. The books were deliberately made small and bound with staples rather than glue so that they would be easy to carry and able to survive the rough environment soldiers lived in. The books included modern and classical fiction, westerns, poetry, biographies, other nonfiction -- a little of everything.

The author tells several stories of letters written by soldiers to authors --- I would have liked even more of these. It is interesting to see which books were popular. She also tells about how politicians tried to censor some books and about decisions to send titles that had been banned in some cities.

The book is a testament to the power of reading -- how it helped soldiers cope during war time and how it inspired many of them to continue their education after returning home. The contrast between Nazis burning millions of books and Americans shipping equal numbers to soldiers reminds us that words and ideas are powerful weapons. ( )
  LynnB | Mar 22, 2020 |
Mostrando 1-5 de 43 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
'“When Books Went to War” is at its most compelling when it lets the ASE program speak for itself, through dramatic anecdotes or quotes from servicemen. Otherwise, as a history of the program, it’s comprehensive but flat.'

'Manning’s book, flawed as it may be, fills a void.'
adicionado por jodi | editarThe Washington Post, Maureen Corrigan (Web site pago) (Jan 30, 2015)
 
"Manning's entertaining account will have readers nostalgic for that seemingly distant era when books were high priority."
adicionado por jodi | editarPublishers Weekly (Dec 15, 2014)
 
"A fresh perspective on the trials of war and the power of books."
adicionado por jodi | editarKirkus Reviews (Sep 14, 2014)
 

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Molly Guptill Manningautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Dunne, BernadetteNarradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Sullivan, MichaelaDesigner da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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For my husband, Christopher Manning
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"Were you ever so upset emotionally that you had to tell someone about it, to sit down and write it out?" a Marine asked in a letter to the author Betty Smith.
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“Books are weapons in the war of ideas” - the slogan of the Council on Books in Wartime.
From books, soldiers extracted courage, hope, determination, a sense of selfhood, and other qualities to fill voids created by the war. (45)
As Americans taunted death and marched toward victory in Europe in 1945, they were carrying thousands of copies of titles that were forbidden in the lands they walked on. (151)
What weapons could be more fitting for the liberation of a continent than the very books that had been banned and burned there? (152)
As millions of veterans returned home, many would bring with them a love of reading that they did not have when the first went off to war. (180)
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"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.

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