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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

A Book for Every Man

When the US joined World War I, the American Library Association launched a fundraising campaign designed to provide troops leisure-time reading.

In only three months, A Book for Every Man raised $5 million, enabling the ALA to ship more than 385 thousand donated books overseas. Before the war's end, that number would reach 10 million. 

Books were delivered to camp libraries and hospitals; placed on transport ships and troop trains; and sent to German prisons housing American POWs. Many were how-to books that helped the soldiers master subjects like accounting, electrical engineering, plumbing, and carpentry; others helped them wage war against Germany; while still others helped them improve their scores in popular games like checkers, chess, poker, and dominoes.

Most of the books were escapist page-turners, meant to fill the idle hours. Among the most popular contemporary authors were writers we still read today, including L. Frank Baum, John Buchan, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Willa Cather, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Zane Grey, H.P. Lovecraft and H.G.Wells.

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