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McWhiney History Education Group believes that informed travel is crucial to well-rounded historical literacy.

Historical Tours

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.”  St. Augustine.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

–Mark Twain

 

As the author suggests, The McWhiney History Education Group believes that informed travel is crucial to well-rounded historical literacy.

Bear Leader Tours

Informed Travel = Well Rounded Historical Literacy

Booking Now : Texans on the Teche, Civil War Sites in South Louisiana, October 26-30

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The Wars that Shaped the World: France, Germany, and the Low Countries;

Love and War in Italy: Ancient Rome, Renaissance Florence, and WW 2;

The Alamo and Beyond: The Texas Revolution;

Contest of Empires: New England, New York from 1620 to 1814;

Guadalcanal and the Solomon Islands: America Strikes Back, 1942-1943;

Ireland Saves Civilization: The Important Places of the Emerald Isle;

Texans on the Teche: South Louisiana’s Civil War Battlefields;

Custom Tours, too! Where would you like to go?

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The Books That Went to War —and How They Changed Publishing

The Council on Books in Wartime was founded in early 1942 by publishers, librarians, authors and others to promote the use of books as "weapons in the war of ideas." In the Spring of 1943, the Council launched the effort for which it would become best known: the Armed Services Editions. ASEs brought high-end books to a mass audience at a time when most people could not afford books, and bookstores were few and far between.
It was able to accomplish its mission in part because of a printing innovation: To be able to produce books at a cost of about six cents each (compared to $2 for the average hardback of the time), the Council decided to use magazine presses, printing two copies on each page, and then slicing the book in half perpendicular to the binding. The result was a book wider than it was tall, featuring two columns of text for easier reading in low light. The real innovation, though, was less technological than ideological. The publishers proposed to take books available only in hardcover form and produce them in this cheap format. The book industry was concerned that this would ruin the business, but committee chairman W.W. Norton believed that giving millions of service personnel the opportunity to "learn what a book is and what it can mean is likely now and in postwar years to exert a tremendous influence on the post war course of the industry." He was right.
The books were "as popular as pin-up girls," reported a GI from New Guinea. Indeed, they often served much the same purposes. Even at the program's height, when one hundred thousand books were delivered per week, it was not enough to keep up with demand. "The principal favorites," a study found, "are novels that deal frankly with sexual relations (regardless of tone, literary merit and point of view, no matter whether the book is serious or humorous, romantically exciting or drably pedestrian)." Sex sold. So did westerns and biographies, although the Council made a deliberate effort to skew its selections toward the more literary end of the spectrum. Sometimes, readers surprised the Council. In 1945, the Council picked out an older novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald that had never achieved popular success, having sold just 120 copies the previous year. Its title? The Great Gatsby.
By the end of the program, 122,951,031 Armed Services Editions were distributed. And the reading habit the books ignited remains to this day.

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One of those troops reading these books was a young marine named Henry Grady McWhiney. He always said that, while aboard a troopship in the Pacific, he read a book about Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart that launched his interest in the Civil War.

His legacy, State House Press, is proud to continue in this tradition by making history accessible to a wide audience.
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