tv Book Discussion on When Books Went to War CSPAN December 25, 2015 11:17am-12:01pm EST
places. so that one word to describe it in his permission b by permissin starts on stage and by permission starts on stage and radiates out to the audience. we have three more people but if you keep your comments relatively concise because i don't want to be never invited back to the miami book festival again. >> the tragedy seem to have a unique power to speak and to reach modern audience. do you think of the classic works like the comedies can also be made to address the needs of modern audiences to help invite you been able to do with the tragedies of? >> there was a project two years ago, a global project. it's a plague about women refused to have sex with men until they stop waging war so people did it all over the world, companies didn't all over the world. there have been other instances i think very successful comedies but this large larger question f canton would serve an audience the way tragedy has? i wish i had the temerity to try to answer that question.
all of our projects are tragedy because we no tragedy is a tool. but i'm sure, is a tool, too. talk to us in 20 years. thank you so much. >> hello. how are you? first of all, just thank you for the wonderful, wild, cosmic, strange, fantastic reading. i think everybody feels the same about it. we are very touched and involved emotionally with what you were saying. and about account i just related posted to the part about dying in hospital. my father recently passed away, and he was not a soldier but he was a high priest in judaism. so i was listening very carefully when you're talking about the studying of hebrew. and also i think there was a point we mentioned w. h. i wouldn't in dover beach, the
poem. it's a very wonderful thing a last stand about a good armies clashing by night, might want to do that in sometime. and that's alas, there's counseling nothing inappropriate for south florida. so when you go to the bar, go crazy. >> we will take that to heart when they go out tonight. thank you. thank you so much. [applause] >> no pressure to say something brilliant or assimilate everything that has been said tonight. >> sum it up, man spent it's a directed to the actors. i just want to know what is your process to get into character to do these roles in tragedy? [laughter] >> that's interesting. we don't really rehearse them very much. almost that would be the wrong thing to do. it's almost like you have to just let it in there.
there's nothing you can prepared to do it in a way. i suppose if we were to do a whole production we would have to. >> and i don't know if you experienced of the translation of this material, but what bryan has been in these translations, there's nothing between the words and the sound of the words and the meaning and beginning of the words. so we don't have to figure out what sophocles is trying to say, at the motivation of these characters is unclear that is the purity of it, not to say it's simplistic mess but it's distilled to a point of transparency, and it's so effective i think i would challenge anybody to read these
words and not have some. and however it comes out when you read it, that's what it means because that's how you see it. that's the beauty of this literature. because it transcends and becomes a very universal thing. bryan has talked about this as he said in a book that you're not alone in this room. you're not alone across the country or across time because this material, we are all together in a. it's not about doing a process of how i'm going to read this stuff. it's very, very primitive kind of music that comes in and goes out in an unimpeded way. >> thank you. >> thank you so much. [applause] >> thank you.
spent bryan, congratulations. thank you very, very much. thank you both. [applause] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> booktv is on facebook are like us to get publishing news, schedule updates, behind the scenes pictures and videos. offer information and to talk directly with authors during our live programs. facebook.com/booktv.
>> and now from the 2015 roosevelt reading festival, molly guptil manning discusses her book "when books went to war: the stories that helped us win world war ii." >> and now it is my pleasure to introduce our author for this session, molly many. she will be discussing her new book "when books went to war: the stories that helped us win world war ii." molly manning grew up in new york, north of albany so welcome back to the hudson river valley. she graduated phi beta kappa from university of albany at all become uncertain which also earned a masters degree in american history. a graduate of the benjamin cardozo school of law in new york city she's an attorney for the united states court of appeals, second circuit in new york city. in 2012 she published her first book the myth, it tells the true story of one of the most elaborate literary hoaxes in
american history. her latest book "when books went to war" tells the amazing and inspiring story of how the united states government and america's librarians and publishers educated americans on the homefront about the importance of books in wartime. and organize programs that led to the distribution over 140 million books to u.s. soldiers and sailors serving in our armed forces during world war ii. please join me in welcoming molly manning to the roosevelt reading festival. [applause] >> thank you for that wonderful introduction. thank you all for coming today. so what i'd like to talk about today is this extraordinary story of how books played an essential role during world war ii. it's a story that was largely forgotten but i think you'll see by the end of this program they
were very important part of world war ii and they really defined that generation and the generation that came after. 140 million books were distributed those who served in world war ii. that's an extraordinary number, and the undertaking was truly extraordinary as well. [inaudible] >> so what i'd like to start with i is why books come of all things, that could be provided to servicemen, why did the cover select reading materials? and really we have congress to thank for this. due to the disastrous timing of the selective training and service act, and allocation of funding for the army to build training camps to train the conscripts that would be drafted into military service, the army ended up facing an extraordinary morale problem. so basically in the summer of
1940 president roosevelt asked congress to pass legislation for the first peacetime draft in american history. america was not at war. most americans were isolationists. they did not want to join a war that they consider to be a foreign war that was thousands of miles away and to fill it really didn't concern them. america was still reeling from the great depression and if you like domestic problems really should've been the main focus of the government, not the war in europe. but fdr realized if america were attacked, the current state of military could not possibly get into the united states. the american army was only approximate 174,000 people in 1939. that was really, really small. and so he asked congress to please pass legislation to allow for a draft to congress worked on legislation over the summer and in september 1940, they finally passed the selective
training and service act. they also realize it needed to have funding so that the army to build adequate training camps for all of many people that would be coming into the military. so what ended up happening is people were drafted into the services before new training camps were actually built for them. so instead of going to a training area where there were barracks in cafeterias and bathrooms and classrooms and things of that nature for their training, he ended up having villages of tense. i'm assuming most of you are from new york and you for me with what winter feels like. unfortunately, the draft occurred over the winter, at least for the full conscripts are to live in tents during the wintertime in the north was really a miserable experience. so that alone made many people feel less than excited for their military service. on top of that many people didn't even understand why they
were drafted. america was not at work that they didn't really make sense to them why they would have to train for military service under those circumstances. and also a lot of people were very young who were drafted into the military. they were used to living at home with her parents. this was the first undertaken out of the family home to live in tents with perfect strangers. when he came to the actual training, military had not yet received uniforms at minicamp. they also didn't have the guns. so the men were stuck wearing uniforms from world war i which were very itchy. they were made out of wool. if they had used broomsticks and pretend that broomsticks were guns. so under these circumstances it was a perfect recipe for misery. and the army had this model that only a happy soldier, attack the soldiers would be better soldiers. soldiers. what they pay for miserable soldiers and they didn't really want to know what kind of soldiers they would turn out to
be. and so what ended up happening is military started doing research can't figure out what can we do to make them in happier. they realized the morale problem was not universal. in more established training camps such as those during world war i, there were all sorts of unused and available to them in. so after a full day's training they can actually relax and enjoy themselves. so, for example, in fort benning, georgia, mnf facilities like pool halls. they also had movie theaters are there were stages where they could watch stage shows or maybe comedians would come through and give a show for the men to enjoy. they also had libraries so make it go and take out books, and they also plenty of tables where they were to write a letter to their loved ones at home they had a private place where they could do it rather than being crammed into a tent with a bunch of strangers trying to pour out their hearts to their loved ones. and the army realized that the man lived in training camps at
all of these entities were dramatically happier. they felt a sense of purpose in their training, and the army felt that that was what they needed to try to duplicate in the new training areas. by the only problem was that there struggling to build barracks in cafeterias and classrooms. they couldn't exactly stop construction on those types of structures to build a movie theater and so they tried to think what kind of entertainment can we provide that would be small, that would necessarily have to be housed in any kind of structure. ..
so it started by plastered posters across the is states is everybody u.s.-backed -- a book campaign was about to kick off n.j. during 1942 on the steps of the new york public library there was said to week publicity the unfair extravaganza where they try to bring in as many celebrities and politicians and colleted -- military officials to explain why books were so important in wartime. each day thousands upon thousands of books were donated. this is the basement of the new york public library they have books taller than they are stacked next to them donated by new yorkers. among the celebrities katharine hepburn. after she gave a speech out important books were to ask all americans to donate she
brought stacks of books herself ordination and signed each one and worked -- wrote an encouraging message inside the covers of whoever would pick the book would seek katharine hepburn wishing them well it wasn't just by adults are for adults even children were involved. librarians work with boys scouts and girl scouts who would organize door-to-door campaigns, events of a collection point asking people to bring books and get them ready to go to training camps. there was one troop in chicago that was or sixth -- so successful with a door-to-door campaign from dawn to dusk they collected 10,000 books. the campaign was going well after a few months they had collected millions but the volunteers were hoping to collect 10 million by a summer of 42.
so they turn to roosevelt for help he was happy to oblige he declared victory book day and ask all americans to go through the bookshelves to select books they enjoyed reading and president roosevelt and eleanor roosevelt were both the hands of reading. if you visit their home they have book shelves filled with books and fdr was a collector and he fell books played an important role because as the german army spread across europe there was an effort to destroy the books the ada is getting control of ideas that did not support the nep -- the not the platform were considered dangerous so they
that they had to be locked fdr did not think that was the best policy but americans could combat that to read as many books as they could so the victory campaign all types regardless of the point to the training camps was a genius idea. sole he gave a speech about the power of the books and he concluded that we know books are weapons. after the speech he had a press conference in one reporter asked
mr. president, what type of books should be asked them to donate? he responded anything but algebra. [laughter] but on a more serious note he said seriously anything you have read and have enjoyed. so with the president's support they met the goal of collecting 10 million books which was a huge accomplishment but what you notice about the books being collected? they are all hardbacks and this is fine generally that there just reading books but they were is so ideal for those said to the fronts so it is marked africa you can see they were marching forward quite some time
although the positions were in the packs so they were necessities like food and ammunition and weapons important things that would make the cut but as they marched for a few miles they stopped to go through their pack there is anything they could eliminate that was not necessary because their feet were blistered and it was hot there were uncomfortable in wanted to do anything they could to lighten their load even though many broughton of victory book with them in many carried them off the ships because they knew the knights would be long and boring there is no repeaters in north africa so they had to carry it with them but unfortunately after days of marching many
reluctantly had to be set aside because they cannot carry the weight. paperbacks would be a huge improvement but the american paperback industry was in its infancy only 200,000 were printed in the united states in 1939 so the victory book campaign collected 10 million only a small portion was paperback. the library is could not do anything that was on the publisher's. the of printers did not want to publish the paperback it costs between $2 and decency and $3 in the sense. a paperback could be sold $0.25 so obviously they had a much bigger profits to sell the hard cover so they
didn't want to in the same could be said for those who ran bookstores to have more of a profit but they realized this is the special circumstance we have to do our part so they realize they had to print a special book just for troops just for distribution overseas and there would have a special program to sell the books directly to the army and the navy then they could distribute around the world. but they had to redesign the book that never existed before so they got rid of the hardcover and reduced the size every 3-1/2 by five 1/2 the biggest was torn in half by six 1/2. the book press could not print books this tiny
because most rate in half by 10 inches so publishers had to figure out they would print them so they turn to a magazine press a blueprint to books on top of one another then slice them in half. the magazine presses could not use book paper so the user on thinner paper so publishers decided that is great this then we can make thinner book so they went to the magazine that was the thickness of newsprint this is from england to the left is the hard cover the right is the armed services editions of admitted dramatically thinner book. to show you just how small they are and they are pocket-sized i have one in my pocket right now.
which says mark twain the complete book. and it does fit inside of a pocket. it is very lightweight it was a huge boon for the soldiers because they were truly pocket-sized they didn't have to fit into a backpack because it would issue in a standard military uniform. so each month they would publish 30 different titles. so the entire set is said to the servicemen that are fighting each month each received one full set for perot wanted to show you inside the books because it is remarkable of the changes so the back cover and add us summary of their wanted to figure out the types of books to read they could
figure it out quickly if not they would pass it on. they're all printed with two columns of text this is extraordinary because soldiers realized they didn't have a lamp and 70 men in a the navy and the research showed if they made the columns shorter dated have to make across 45 inches but just 2 inches and it made easier for the soldiers to read even in that of an ideal conditions. in the printed if they put a
favorite title or a favorite author they didn't want to miss it they just had to check the back of their book each month than they knew someone in the unit had the book they just had to track them down. been there is a strict unspoken policy so as soon as you we're done with the book you had to pass it on. really popular books have waiting lists see consign them to be the next person in line if you heard it was a good the books are incredibly popular but what i would like to do is have the men themselves to you how they felt rather than the paraphrase because that is anecdotes' better much more powerful. someone to show you a few that were printed as armed services editions.
the first one prefers one and to be printed you can see the a-1 in the quarter that was the first series ben book number worn. -- number one it has short sketches of humor. not exactly difficult reading and one person wrote to the author would commit to him and his unit. >> and want to thank you profoundly for myself and more importantly in the godforsaken part of the day hot during the day in freeze that i know what we're doing here at the persian gulf no one knows all we have for recreation is a ping-pong
set with one paddle. [laughter] last week received your book i read it and roared with laughter. as an experiment to read it one night at camp fire and the men hold. i have not heard such laughter in months. now they demand i only read one chapter a night it is a ration on our pleasure. for those of first received the first dirty books it was a total surprise nobody would have told them they would start receiving monthly shipments the first happened to arrive december december 43 most people assumed it was a christmas present so what happened is they've received bundles of books they ripped them open then distributed them among themselves the next month
cheery 44 there were surprised to find they found another shipment that this would be monthly phenomenon so the men started to look forward to that. stars and stripes started to print a book last this is what is coming next. now this book is a wholesome book of a young girl who grew up in her mother's boarding house in just reports on the happenings. the mother keeps booking guests who are crazy and asking for strange things to happen in she happens to be a fabulous cook and they're all these descriptions how
she cooks for the gas but the descriptions of the mother's cooking is what does that for most men. when they're eating tin cans to read about gender's drove them crazy. one man wrote even the talk of ice water was enough to send him quivering. [laughter] but these images of a mother cooking and for read this -- for many men with the civilian lives in brought them back to what it was like to be a civilian in one wrote that reading the book took him home for a couple of hours. to alleviate my homesickness. i'll laughter and a little while in that marvelous house with those people the
final book by want to highlight was a surprise favorite told from the perspective of a young girl growing up in brooklyn and the odds are stacked against her. father is an alcoholic the she adores him but then he dies when she is a nice goal. she is forced to help support the family by getting a job but it was heard dream to go to college. dc nit it was impossible she did everything she could to get to college in she ended up succeeding and i think a lot of men as they face the war and possible death they saw a big symbol of the young girl and they were inspired.
perceive the -- they're receiving 10,000 letters in was a goody enough to write back compared to reading a good letter from home because the never transported back to their childhood but they told her how the book helps them to survive the war mentally and emotionally. there was one group of letters that stand out for me about was from one that wrote this seemed like his unit kept racing missions that were just suicide missions to feel "this is it". this is the end. and there is something about this book the would think
about this young girl and the odds that she faced and somehow he would find courage he would fight and survive so the first letter was an aberration to see you helped inspire me through battle fatigue and depression and again to say once again you have saved me. a few months later his final letter arrived in told betty smith yet gone to bat again and they would be discharged. but wanted to tell her what the bookman to him. and that they were planning to start a family when he got home and they would name her betty smith in honor of
the woman who caused him to live. >> over 123 million of these were distributed when the war ended in the program ended it did not end the two main things you can see their repercussions from the production of the book's first evolving american paperback industry exploded publisher saw there was a school segment of the population who would never buy a hardcover book but they realize they would buy paperbacks. hard-cover were too expensive but with a paperback they could read an entirely different population so in 1939 only 200,000 are printed by
194,795,000,000 are printed in the 1,952,250,000,000 and in 1959 for the first time ever in america more are printed than hardcover so they finally got the message and the second thing that impacted people on an individual level the average soldier did not read books before they went to war there was a union because they had a direct order to do so the college was too expensive you had to be very wealthy but with the gi bill everyone who was honorably discharged had an opportunity to go to college for free. so now was a possibility that simultaneously started
reading books so when this opportunity opened up to go back to school to earn a college education they decided to take a vintage of that. many were the first member of the family to get a college tradition in many succeeded after them. these books genes of way in the united states in the way they're educated if they could reach in a foxhole and to swing from a half -- him neck then they could succeed in life.
that is the end of the presentation. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> are these books available in place? in you find them anywhere like garage sales? >> yes. the ada is they were all supposed to use day overseas but most people brock -- brought of booker to with them because the ship arrived to take water to weeks and it would be born with no type of military maneuvers so they brought
books home with them then kept them as mementos. some people were so desperate to have access to the armed services additions after the war they would take a group and mail them home so you can find them on line. sometimes on the day i personally have looked for them at flea markets. my experience is some of the titles that our less popular candy as cheap as the dollar but smothers like "the great gatsby" tend to go for much higher. >>.
>> were there any titles that later were decided they were not appropriate? >> there was say censorship debacle with congress the senator from ohio who was a republican was worried that fdr to have another term then also worry that they would send a political propaganda and it would be enough to swing the election is the legislation was passed that said any type of reading material that had political viewpoints was prohibited. it could not be sent to the troops of purchased by the government so of course, all armed services editions purchased by the government for distribution to the troops so all of a sudden these books that were wonderful history is or
short stories cannot be printed as armed services additions the tissue to be fined $1,000 or imprisoned for one year or both. people did want to be arrested or jailed but they didn't think they should to answer themselves in the next of a war being fought for freedom and the freedom to read as fdr acknowledge. publishers decided to wage war on censorship so they use publicity departments with major american newspapers and radio stations all talked about passing legislation in a time of war in a matter of months they got the legislation overture and in that was amended subliminal
longer be prevented and take a published in the books that they wanted but it did upset certain groups of people to books in particular that came in under fire was a book by a lillian smith. these were controversial because they had sex scenes and publishers thought and then went to read books with a sexy and so give it to them but there were religious groups that did not want them to go to the serviceman one was considered so indecent most ted bates and the book and one of the publishers that they would distribute the bay and books to their soldiers and he was quoted