As anyone who has served in the military can attest, there are long periods of inactivity involved. Boredom can often be the number one curse of being in the military, punctuated in wartime with periods of combat and the risk of death and wounding. In World War II a unique collaboration between government and private industry resulted in Armed Services Editions, Inc. During the War this non-profit corporation published 1,332 titles for free for troops overseas and in hospitals. The books were small paperbacks, easily fitting in the pockets of soldiers, and each volume had two books.
The titles published ranged from classics to popular novels to books about the war, and everything else under the sun. All literary genres were covered: history, philosophy, poetry, plays, westerns, science fiction, humor, etc. The books were popular with the troops, as the tattered and “well-loved” condition of surviving volumes attest. A total of 123 million books were published, and did their bit in making the War less boring, if not any less horrible when it was not boring. Go here to read more About Armed Services Editions and its effort to provide books to the military. Armed Services Editions, Inc. ceased publication in 1947, mission accomplished.