I liked this one. I listened to the audiobook (six discs) and I listened to it pretty much straight through as I walked and did my errands today.
This tells the story of efforts to put books in the hands of soldiers and sailors during World War Two.
Starting with a long discussion on Nazi censorship and propaganda and ending with the GI Bill, the book makes the long argument that the values fought for by the various sides: the prevailing of a singular idea (or set of ideas espoused in Mein Kampf) versus the greater ideal of non-censorship and openness on the American side.
I can’t vouch for a lot of the history being told or the facts as they stand, but if this book is to be believed, the relative lack of censorship in this program, especially as it culminated in a fight to repeal a war voting amendment that would have prevented a lot of the books published to be sent overseas, this was admirable program. It seemed to work on the principle that a diversity of ideas is important to maintain the moral of soldiers, that people in position to die for their country deserve to be treated adult enough to read whatever they want, and that banning in the states doesn’t require banning for soldiers.
I knew about the wartime editions of books, but I didn’t know the full scope of the program itself, along with the amount of production needed to push this idea forward. Were there ever another situation like this, I’d like to think this might be a role I could get behind. I can’t fully tell how oversold these efforts or effects were, but the source material is convincing.
Plus librarians get to be the heroes.
But here’s some cool resources about the program including pictures: