September 14, 2015 Armed Services Editions Are Subject of Book Discussion

‘When Books Went to War’ Documents World War II Project

Press Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217
Public Contact: Center for the Book (202) 707-5221
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“When Books Went to War: The Stories That Helped Us Win World War II” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014) shows how publishers, book sellers and librarians who viewed books as “weapons in the war of ideas” mobilized to launch a program that distributed more than 122 million small, lightweight paperbacks to troops overseas.

Author Molly Guptill Manning will discuss and sign her book on Friday, Sept. 25, at noon in the Mary Pickford Theater, located on the third floor of the Library of Congress James Madison Memorial Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. This Books & Beyond event, hosted by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, is free and open to the public; no tickets are required.

When America entered World War II in 1941, it opposed nations that had banned and burned books. In 1943, the Council on Books in Wartime, working with the War Department, began distributing pocket-size volumes to every theater of war. Approximately 1,300 titles were printed in every genre. The program rescued from obscurity such now-classic books as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.” Betty Smith’s “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” became a national favorite.

Today, the books are loved by collectors, and the Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections Division has one of the few complete sets.

Molly Guptill Manning is the author of “The Myth of Ephraim Tutt,” and her articles have appeared in the Columbia Journal of Law and the Arts. She is an attorney for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York City.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs, publications and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at

The Library’s Center for the Book, established by Congress in 1977 to “stimulate public interest in books and reading,” is a national force for reading and literacy promotion. A public-private partnership, it sponsors educational programs that reach readers of all ages through its affiliated state centers, collaborations with nonprofit reading promotion partners and through the Library’s Young Readers Center and the Poetry and Literature Center. For more information, visit


PR 15-165
ISSN 0731-3527