Armed Services Editions
(ASEs) were small, compact, paperback books printed by the Council on Books in Wartime
for distribution within the American military
during World War II
. This program was in effect from 1943 to 1946. The ASEs were designed to provide entertainment to soldiers serving overseas, while also educating them about political, historical, and military issues. The slogan of the Council on Books in Wartime was, "Books are weapons in the war of ideas
The ASE program featured an array of fiction and non-fiction titles, including classics, contemporary bestsellers, biographies, drama, poetry, and genre fiction (mysteries, sports, fantasy, action/adventure, westerns). Non-fiction books included biographies, religious/self-help titles, and science titles. Most of these books were printed in unabridged versions. The distinctive covers bore the description, "Armed Services Edition: This is the Complete Book-- Not a Digest." 91 of the titles printed were abridged, usually for length rather than content. These bore the slogan, "Condensed for wartime reading," or slight variations such as "Slightly condensed for rapid reading." Over the life of the program, over 123 million copies of 1,322 titles were printed. This makes the ASE program one of the largest wide-scale distributions of free books in history.
For a list of titles in the series, and to see how the books were numbered, see
The small books... Read More