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

Monday, August 31, 2015
Molly Guptill Manning
When Books Went to War: The Stories That Helped Us Win World War II

We’ve all heard about the GI Bill, but how many of us have heard about the Armed Services Editions (ASE) program? Without the latter, the education component of the former probably wouldn’t have been as successful. Post-World War II, some 2.2 million servicemen went to college and another 5.6 million signed up for advanced training thanks to the GI Bill. Many of those men discovered the joy of reading—and their potential for learning—thanks to ASE books. Originally a response to the Germans burning books, the ASE program aimed to put more books than were destroyed by the Germans into the hands of servicemen.  The books helped men, many of whom hadn’t been readers, beat boredom as they waited in foxholes and elsewhere and cope with emotional distress. They also inspired learning: men requested technical books be added to the lists of novels. This is a great addition to WWII history, as well as publishing history. Like me, it might motivate you to read one of the books repeatedly mentioned. I read When Books Went to War on CD, but the library also has a print copy.

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