"I can't explain the emotional reaction that took place, I only know that it happened and that this heart of mine turned over and became alive again. A surge of confidence has swept through me and I feel that maybe a fellow has a fighting chance in this world after all. I'll never be able to explain to you the gratitude and love that fill my heart in appreciation of what your book means to me." - from a battle-weary U.S. Marine's letter to author Betty Smith about her novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
When the United States entered World War II, American servicemen needed more than weapons, uniforms, and food rations to survive: They needed books. And so an entire country - librarians, publishers, and civilians of all ages - came together to feed the literary hunger of servicemen desperate to escape the pain, fear, despair, and boredom of war in the pages of a good book. As the war escalated, nationwide book drives gave way to an extraordinary partnership between publishers and the War Department to print special pocket-sized paperback editions of popular fiction, poetry, classics, and any other genres that could offer solace in the midst of chaos. Peppered with personal accounts from men for whom the books became an emotional lifeline - "the presence of books seemed to verify that 'the members of our army [are still] human beings'" - When Books Went to War is an incredible true story about the transformative power of reading.
|Read more about this book on our blog, The Bluestocking Salon!|