Books as Weapons: Propaganda, Publishing, and the Battle for Global Markets in the Era of World War II by John B. HenchBooks as Weapons: Propaganda, Publishing, and the Battle for Global Markets in the Era of World War II by John B. Hench

Books as Weapons: Propaganda, Publishing, and the Battle for Global Markets in the Era of World War…

byJohn B. Hench

Hardcover | April 29, 2010

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Only weeks after the D-Day invasion of June 6, 1944, a surprising cargo—crates of books—joined the flood of troop reinforcements, weapons and ammunition, food, and medicine onto Normandy beaches. The books were destined for French bookshops, to be followed by millions more American books (in translation but also in English) ultimately distributed throughout Europe and the rest of the world. The British were doing similar work, which was uneasily coordinated with that of the Americans within the Psychological Warfare Division of General Eisenhower's Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force, under General Eisenhower's command.

Books As Weapons tells the little-known story of the vital partnership between American book publishers and the U.S. government to put carefully selected recent books highlighting American history and values into the hands of civilians liberated from Axis forces. The government desired to use books to help "disintoxicate" the minds of these people from the Nazi and Japanese propaganda and censorship machines and to win their friendship. This objective dovetailed perfectly with U.S. publishers' ambitions to find new profits in international markets, which had been dominated by Britain, France, and Germany before their book trades were devastated by the war. Key figures on both the trade and government sides of the program considered books "the most enduring propaganda of all" and thus effective "weapons in the war of ideas," both during the war and afterward, when the Soviet Union flexed its military might and demonstrated its propaganda savvy. Seldom have books been charged with greater responsibility or imbued with more significance.

John B. Hench leavens this fully international account of the programs with fascinating vignettes set in the war rooms of Washington and London, publishers' offices throughout the world, and the jeeps in which information officers drove over bomb-rutted roads to bring the books to people who were hungering for them. Books as Weapons provides context for continuing debates about the relationship between government and private enterprise and the image of the United States abroad.

John B. Hench has retired from the post of Vice President for Collections and Programs at the American Antiquarian Society. He is coeditor of The Press and the American Revolution and Printing and Society in Early America.
Title:Books as Weapons: Propaganda, Publishing, and the Battle for Global Markets in the Era of World War…Format:HardcoverDimensions:352 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0.39 inPublished:April 29, 2010Publisher:CORNELL UNIVERSITY PRESSLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0801448913

ISBN - 13:9780801448911

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Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations and Acronyms
Introduction: Books on the Normandy BeachesPart I: Cultivating New Markets
1. Modernizing U.S. Book Publishing
2. War Changes Everything—Even BooksPart II: Books as "Weapons in the War of Ideas"
3. Publishers Organize for War and Plan for Peace
4. "Books Are the Most Enduring Propaganda of All"
5. Seeking "an Inside Track to the World's Bookshelves"
6. "Everyone but the Janitor" Selected the Books
7. Books to Pacify and Reeducate the Enemy
8. Making the "Nice Little Books"Part III: U.S. Cultural Power Abroad
9. Liberating Europe with Books
10. The Rise and Fall of the United States International Book Association
11. The Empire Strikes Back
12. Books for Occupied Germany and JapanEpilogue: American Books Abroad after 1948Appendix A. Overseas and Transatlantic Editions
Appendix B. Titles in the Bücherreihe Neue Welt SeriesNotes

Editorial Reviews

"Making excellent use of a wide range of archives, John B. Hench argues that World War II was a turning point for American publishers, forcing them to undertake more strategic and cooperative planning across the industry than had been their wont and prompting them to see the world beyond their own borders as a viable and valuable marketplace. The war heightened publishers' sense that they dealt in ideas even as it raised their awareness of the value of the commodity in which they traded. Hench maps the results in a nuanced treatment of the trade's approach to wartime and postwar publishing. His exploration of the industry's distinctive mixture of mid-twentieth-century patriotism and entrepreneurial zeal marks a bygone era—one whose effects nevertheless continue to ramify today." - Trysh Travis, University of Florida