On May 10, 1933, German students (with official encouragement) burned an estimated 25,000 books in a symbolic act meant to “purify” Germany of Jewish influence. The Nazis would continue to burn books throughout their reign, both in their country and in the countries they invaded, in an attempt to stamp out any thought they deemed dangerous to National Socialism, ultimately destroying over 100 million volumes. People around the world reacted in outrage and horror, and in the
US, groups of librarians, citizens, politicians, writers, and publishers came together to fight back. Through organized book donation drives and the invention of an entirely new book format—the Armed Services Edition—these fighters in World War
II’s “War of Ideas” put 132 million books in the hands of American servicemen and their allies. Their work inspired an entire generation with a love of reading and enshrined books like Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby as American classics. When Books Went to War tells their unforgettable story.