World War II witnessed an unprecedent effort by American librarians, scholars, intelligence agents, and the military to acquire foreign publications and information. In a total war, the book world became a terrain of battle. Fighting the enemy required the mobilization of knowledge, including the open-source intelligence gleaned in publications. It involved ideological confrontations between freedom and fascism that required the elimination of Nazi literature. And it prompted new attention to the preservation of culture and, as the scale of Nazi pillaging became clear, the restitution of looted books. Wartime mobilization encouraged librarians and scholars to put their professional expertise to these efforts. Some of those involved were public figures, but most were ordinary individuals, predominantly men, from a range of backgrounds, who came together in the unique conditions of the war.
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