When Books Went to War: The Stories That Helped Us Win World War II
Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
Date: December 2014
Duration: 6 hours 51 minutes
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.
“When Books Went to War is a thoroughly engaging, enlightening, and often uplifting account of America’s counterattack against Nazi Germany’s wholesale burning of books. During World War II, the US government, along with librarians and publishers, dispatched millions of books to American GIs, sailors, and fliers, using the written word itself as a powerful reply to tyranny, thought control, absolutism, and perverse ideology. I was enthralled and moved. As an object lesson in intellectual tolerance, When Books Went to War should be embraced by school boards and libraries all across our country.”—Tim O’Brien, National Book Award–winning author of The Things They Carried