Books Go To War
July 25, 2003 1:22 PM   Subscribe

Books Go To War Between 1943 and 1947, the Council on Books in Wartime published 1322 small-format books (4 in. x 5.75 in. — designed to fit easily into the pockets of service uniforms) for distribution to United States service personnel. These books were unabridged volumes spanning a variety of topics: popular fiction, humor, classic literature, music, psychology, war stories, etc. Because the books were distributed only to overseas troops, and printed on cheap paper (intended to be read, passed around, and discarded), they've become hard-to-find, the subject of museum exhibits and, in the case of the rarer titles, the object of collectors' desire.
posted by jdroth (7 comments total)
Previously discussed (briefly) here.
posted by riviera at 1:36 PM on July 25, 2003


Two things:
  1. I'm pleased to see that I'm duplicating interrobang's posts. We book-lovers have to stick together!
  2. And second, why doesn't a search on the URL or the phrase Armed Services Editions (both of which I tried) return any previous posts?
Still, I found the links interesting, though they're not likely to generate much discussion this time, either. :)posted by jdroth at 2:39 PM on July 25, 2003

Nice. Thanks jdroth. :)
posted by plep at 3:09 PM on July 25, 2003

Hi. Nice post.

Can anyone answer my original question from my post about Armed Services Editions? What are soldiers reading now? Does anyone know?
posted by interrobang at 5:22 PM on July 25, 2003

Interrobang, in some of my reading on this subject I stumbled across a piece of information that I'm now sure to mangle: IIRC, a wealthy collector of the orginal Armed Services Editions has financed a small run of three or four titles in a format similar to the original to be distributed to current service personnel. If I can find that bit again, I'll post a link.
posted by jdroth at 10:01 PM on July 25, 2003

jdroth: That would be nice.

In all honesty, I didn't work very hard on my post about this; I just remembered an Armed Services Edition my dad gave me and mysteriously and quickly took away from me, saying that his dad had done the same thing to him. I got curious and looked them up some more. I couldn't find anything about what's going on right now at all.

HOWEVER! I work in a used bookstore, and I have been sending more and more books to APO, AE locations lately - the addresses of military sites - so it might be that the military doesn't give a shit anymore what their servicemen read at all. Most of the stuff I mail to them is escapist stuff: role-playing games and books in long series, like Robert Jordan and Jack Chalker.

I'd still like to know if the government has an official printing-press that makes books specifically for the military, though. That book my dad gave me (and then weirdly hid) was a totally incomprehensible metaphysical text, to my thirteen-year-old brain.
posted by interrobang at 11:09 PM on July 25, 2003

Jeez. I guess no one has much to say about this fascinating subject. Jerks.
posted by interrobang at 12:28 AM on July 27, 2003

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