This New York Times bestselling account of books parachuted to soldiers during WWII is a “cultural history that does much to explain modern America” (USA Today).
When America entered World War II in 1941, we faced an enemy that had banned and burned 100 million books. Outraged librarians launched a campaign to send free books to American troops, gathering 20 million hardcover donations. Two years later, the War Department and the publishing industry stepped in with an extraordinary program: 120 million specially printed paperbacks designed for troops to carry in their pockets and rucksacks in every theater of war.
These small, lightweight Armed Services Editions were beloved by the troops and are still fondly remembered today. Soldiers read them while waiting to land at Normandy, in hellish trenches in the midst of battles in the Pacific, in field hospitals, and on long bombing flights. This pioneering project not only listed soldiers’ spirits, but also helped rescue The Great Gatsby from obscurity and made Betty Smith, author of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, into a national icon.“A thoroughly engaging, enlightening, and often uplifting account . . . I was enthralled and moved.” — Tim O’Brien, author of The Things They Carried
“Whether or not you’re a book lover, you’ll be moved.” — Entertainment Weekly