Guptill Manning's When Books Went to War traces the various campaigns led by citizen groups, librarians, and the publishing industry during World WarGuptill Manning's When Books Went to War traces the various campaigns led by citizen groups, librarians, and the publishing industry during World War II to provide American service members with books for entertainment and education. In an effort to ease anxiety and loneliness/homesickness for service members, the facilitators of the Victory Book Campaign, and later the Council on Books in Wartime brought millions of books in the form of Armed Service Edition (ASEs). Over 1200 titles were published between 1943 and 1946 for distribution.
Authors whose books were selected as ASEs were rewarded with a loyal readership of millions of men. Words spread quickly about the titles that were perennial favorites, even reaching the homefront. F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, which was written in 1925, was considered a failure during Fitzgerald's lifetime. But when this book was printed as an ASE in October 1945, it won the hearts of an army of men. Their praise reverberated back home, and The Great Gatsby was rescued from obscurity, and has since become an American literary classic.
The ASEs were cherished and shared, with many stories of the book distribution lines at the camps/bases being longer than the food lines. In more remote outposts (specifically on the Pacific front on small islands) the books were the community builder: with only one or two books for the whole unit, the men would gather and read aloud to each other, or cut the books apart and round-robin the pages to read.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was one of the top 5 most popular ASEs
The program was a resounding success, and the ASEs proved to be so popular that many service members credited their later interest in education (with the GI Bill post-war) to the love of reading ASEs. The program also paved the way for the now-ubiquitous paperback editions of the publishing industry.
The book begins and ends with important notes about fighting censorship: citing the massive book burnings in Nazi Germany and later desctruction of archives and libraries. The motto of the Council for Books in Wartime rings true today just as it did in the 1940s:
"Books are weapons in the war of ideas."
-- Book Riot 2017 Read Harder Challenge: "Book About Books"...more
Can the citizens of Quebec whose license plates proudly state "I remember" (Je me souviens) actually retrieve memories of the French colonial state?
Can the citizens of Quebec whose license plates proudly state "I remember" (Je me souviens) actually retrieve memories of the French colonial state? ...the collective subjects, who supposedly "remember", did not exist as such at the time of the events that they claim to remember. Rather, their constitution as subjects goes hand-in-hand with continuous creation of the past.
Starting with a pretty tame example of Quebec, Professor Trouillot goes on to broaden his examples, most specifically a comparative analysis of slavery in the Americas, specifically in his native Haiti and its (successful!) revolution against French colonialism in the early 19th century, and what was happening in the US and Europe at this same point in time. Trouillot provides further context of this "continuous creation of the past" by studying Holocaust denial, history of Texas and the Alamo, and later delves into Christopher Columbus.
The fact that I did both undergrad and graduate level history and archival studies (including a seminar on Atlantic/Caribbean history) and didn't encounter this book until now (22 years after original publication!) is a problem - and it further underlines the premise of the book. However, a quick Google search - and other Goodreads reviews of many others who read this in a classroom - gives me hope, and also shows that even after decades, this book remains important scholarship in historiography.
What we often call the legacy of the past may not be anything bequeathed by the past itself.
Very interesting history of death and the many cases where people have been buried alive. The book has a rich medical history in it, and was an intereVery interesting history of death and the many cases where people have been buried alive. The book has a rich medical history in it, and was an interesting read. ...more