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Terça-feira, 22.02.11


Literature on the Frontlines: The History of Armed Services Edition Books




“Soldiering is 99% boredom, 1% sheer terror,” a Civil War soldier wrote to his wife. And since that time, the composition of war has largely remained the same—a whole lot of hurry up and wait.




What to do in those periods between action, especially for the men on the frontlines, those far from any kind of creature comforts or entertainment, has long been a problem. Writing a letter home, playing cards, and shooting the shiz were some of the few available options. But there’s only so many times a man can clean his gun before looking for something else to pass the time.




To combat the morale-sapping effects of boredom during World War II, a unique collaboration between government and private industry launched an effort to distribute almost 1.3 million books to American GI’s. These books, the Armed Services Editions, were eagerly read by men in submarines, battleships, foxholes, and hospital beds, and not only served as a source of entertainment and solace during the war, but also turned many men into lifelong readers when they returned home.


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