Tuesday, November 17, 2015

"When Books Went to War" By Molly Guptill Manning

I heard an interview with the author on the radio and a few months later saw the audiobook at the library. 

Summary: As the Nazis gained power they campaigned against certain books, hosting book burnings and eventually banned books outright. As the allies challenged the axis on the battlefield, there was a parallel conflict building up. In America librarians and others united to fight the fascists in the war of ideas. As the Nazis burned them, the Americans distributed them.

In the beginning there were civilan book drives with drop offs all across the nation. They accepted all books and worked to get them into army training camps and deployment centers so that soldiers could select a title and read at their leisure. The idea was to show that America supported freedom of the press and to remind soldiers what they were fighting for.

The book drives proved inadequate because people dropped off books that were unwanted and impractical, especially the large hardcover editions that could not be carried by a soldier in the field. The government then organized a program to publish special Armed Services Editions of various titles selected by a council. The books were custom designed to fit in a soldier's pocket and stay with him until he was done reading it. Many consider the program to be reason millions of people became lifelong readers after the war.

What I Liked: The importance of books in World War II is great. I love the idea of a council whose only job is to get as many books into soldier's hands as a way to fight the enemy.

What I Didn't Like: This book has no story arc or protagonist. There is no compelling build up to keep you reading. If this wasn't an audiobook I am not sure I would have finished.

Rating: If you have an interest in WWII or book history, you might like it, otherwise, probably not.

Also Read by this Author: None.

Reviewed by: Nick

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