My Mom told me that during World War II, my Dad always carried a paperback book in his pocket. Although I knew my Dad was an avid reader, I had no idea what that book in his pocket really meant until I read Molly Guptill Manning‘s, When Books Went to War. It is a well-researched book and a very interesting story. From the publisher’s description:
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.
The A.S.E. (Armed Service Editions) became a highly successful program, and the story of what those books meant to the troops is quite fascinating. Anyone who loves books will be interested in this story and especially interested in the list of books published as ASEs.
I never knew anything about this. Love the pic of your dad.
Thanks, Nan. I had never heard about this, either, and that’s why it captured my interest. The book list of ASEs is really fun to look through. The favorite of the GIs? A Tree Grows in Brooklyn!
I had never heard of this program either. Fascinating! I wish the whole country still felt this way about books.
Thanks, Nebula. I wish so, too! It was such a wonderful happening, the whole country coming together for books! It made readers out of so many people! Very powerful.