Remembrance Day: Books in War

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“The CBW [Council on Books and Wartime] provided stories that were approved by the army for soldiers to read during service. This publishing movement resulted in the paperback boom during the war. Armed Service Editions, which are smaller and portable books, were popularized and easier for soldiers to take into battle.” Rosa Johnson ‘The Effect of Literature in the WWII Trenches” Linfield Review

But what did the ordinary soldiers of World War I read on a daily basis during life in the trenches? Reading material was in heavy demand from the men living in cramped conditions in a war that was static for long periods of time.

Perhaps the safest answer is anything they could get their hands on. Most soldiers travelled light to the front and then craved books and magazines once they were embroiled in the stalemate. They would read anything that could take their thoughts off the mud, the rats, the shelling, the smell, the snipers and the prospect of going over the top and charging machine gun emplacements.” Abe Books “Trench Literature – Reading in World War I” by Richard Davies, Udo Goellmann & Sara Melendre

Cornell University 2010

“This is a book about war but it is also a book about the diplomacy of books. As an international and comparative history of wartime publishing, it presents deeply contextualized accounts, offering multiple contemporary perspectives, a true mark of scholarship that constructs the book trade as an international phenomenon. It will for sure make its mark in many fields, but it is deeply embedded in our own.” 2010 George A. and Jean S. DeLong Book History Book Prize from the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing (SHARP). (Source) (Book Website)



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Filed under History of Books & Libraries, Reading

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