Monday, February 9, 2015

Review: When Books Went to War

When Books Went to War: The Stories that Helped Us Win World War IIWhen Books Went to War: The Stories that Helped Us Win World War II by Molly Guptill Manning

The title of this book drew me in right away. On further review the description was very intriguing. Since reading is my biggest pastime, I thought this non-fiction piece would be an interesting tidbit of history. I'm so glad Blackstone Audio made this title into an audiobook. I greatly enjoyed reading non-fiction as an audiobook!

Molly Guptill Manning discovered ASEs while writing her first book, The Myth of Ephraim Tutt. While researching Tutt, she found Tutt's book as an Armed Services Edition. As further research brought more references to ASEs, Manning knew she wanted to know more. (She explains more on her blog.)

I'm so happy she looked into and shared her research about Armed Services Editions and the history around them! I quickly became enthralled with her book. The history began with book burning events in history and ends with the GI bill after VJ day. One of the main themes was WWII being a "war of ideas" and how Americans fought the ideas war.

Manning offers great quotes throughout her book from letters mailed to publishers, authors, war correspondents, and other well-known individuals of WWII. She also shares WWII history beyond the books, which surprisingly are softly tied to reading and ASEs. Reading is an everyday skill and ASEs are only a small part of WWII, but both hold an amazing place in history. ASEs were a key to changing the book publishing history! I never knew that and I doubt I would have found out if not for Manning's book. Yes, there is some overlapping (or repetition) but she covers a lot of material and time in this book. I didn't mind the repetition or jogs between years.

I would recommend When Books Went to War for anyone who is interested in WWII, books about books, publishing, business, banned books, and libraries. I think a wide audience would be interested in this title. Mostly adults will probably read it, but college students and high schoolers might enjoy it as well.

Bernadette Dunne narrates Manning's book. I enjoyed her vocal skills. She was consistent throughout the nearly 7 hours of reading. Dunne shared mild nuisances when portraying writers of letters or individuals sharing small bits of reports and the like. She was a great reader for this non-fiction piece. I would listen to another book read by Dunne. No music accompanied this audiobook and it wasn't needed.

Reviewed from an Audiobook Jukebox copy. Thank you, Blackstone Audio!

I received this audiobook for free from Audiobook Jukebox for an honest review.


When I finished When Books Went to War, I wanted to find out even more information about ASEs. Here are some of the articles and websites I found about ASEs...

Molly Guptill Manning explains how she discovered ASEs
Molly Guptill Manning speaking with

ASE's explained by Wikipedia
List of ASE Titles and Authors from Armed Services Editions
Books for Victory Publishing During WWII blog
Literature on the Frontlines: The History of Armed Services Edition Books article from The Art of Manliness (This article also shares book cover images of published ASEs.)

Books in Action (Library of Congress Center for the Book)

More WWII Audiobook titles to enjoy via BookRiot


Blackstone Audio

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