September 24, 2010 "Books as Weapons" During World War II Subject of Author Discussion

How U.S. Publishers Won Hearts, Minds and Wallets of Allied Nations’ Readers

Press Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217
Public Contact: Center for the Book (202) 707-5221

“Books as Weapons: Propaganda, Publishing and the Battle for Global Markets in the Era of World War II” tells the little-known story of the vital partnership between American book publishers and the United States government to put carefully selected recent books highlighting American history and values into the hands of civilians liberated from Axis forces.

The book’s author, John B. Hench, will discuss and sign his work on Tuesday, Oct. 5, at noon in the Mary Pickford Theater on the third floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. The event, sponsored by the Center for the Book, is free and open to the public; no tickets are required.

Hench is the former vice-president for Collections and Programs at the American Antiquarian Society and is co-editor of “The Press and the American Revolution” (1981) and “Printing and Society in Early America” (1983).

The government used books to help “disintoxicate” people from Nazi and Japanese propaganda and censorship and to win their friendship. This objective dovetailed perfectly with U.S. publishers’ ambitions to find new profits in international markets, which had been dominated by Britain, France and Germany before their book trades were devastated by the war.

Hench’s book is also the subject of a discussion on Facebook. The new Books & Beyond Book Club is available at Here readers can discuss books, the authors of which have appeared or will appear in this series. The site also offers links to webcasts of these events and asks readers to talk about what they have seen and heard.

The Center for the Book ( was established by Congress in 1977 “to use the resources and prestige of the Library of Congress to promote books, reading, literacy and libraries.” With its many educational programs that reach readers of all ages, through its support of the National Book Festival and through its dynamic state centers in the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Center for the Book has developed a nationwide network of organizational partners dedicated to promoting the wonders and benefits of reading. The center also oversees the < website, with its exclusive “Exquisite Corpse Adventure” serialized story.


PR 10-211
ISSN 0731-3527