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Major Publishers Join to Send Books to Troops

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 7, 2002 – Three major publishers have revived the World War II practice of publishing special editions of their books for U.S. troops serving overseas.

They kicked off the new program by giving away several hundred books in the Pentagon today.

During World War II, more than 123 million paperback books were handed out to U.S. troops overseas as special Armed Services Editions. The books were light and small enough to fit in a cargo pocket.

At the height of the program, which lasted from 1943 to 1947, more than 1,300 titles were made into Armed Services Editions, including best sellers and classics.

For the new books, Hyperion, Simon and Schuster, and Dover Publications joined together to publish and distribute more than 100,000 copies of four different titles. The books are in the small, signature style of the 1940s versions and will be distributed to service members overseas and aboard ships at sea in December.

The four titles published as special editions are:

"Medal of Honor: Profiles of America's Military Heroes from the Civil War to the Present," by Allen Mikaelian, with commentary by Mike Wallace.

"Henry V," by William Shakespeare.

"The Art of War," by Sun Tzu.

"War Letters: Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars," edited by Andrew Carroll.

Carroll, author of "War Letters," was instrumental in restarting the program.

"I'm not in the military myself, but I collect these old books," he said today at the book giveaway in the Pentagon. "I wanted to see them brought back for a while."

Carroll said he'd been working with the publishers for a couple years, but the outpouring of patriotism stemming from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks has really helped.

"I think there's a greater appreciation now for what our men and women in uniform are doing for this nation," he said. "This is a very small token of saying thank you."

The author said he'd like to see more volumes published as Armed Services Editions and hopes more publishers will support the program in the future.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageMilitary and civilian Pentagon employees line up Nov. 7 to receive free copies of books in special Armed Services Editions. Photo by Kathleen T. Rhem  
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