“When Books Went to War”

grapes of wrath

Many men who were injured in the war found hope and healing in the books they read as they recovered. Charles Bolte, who was wounded in Africa, hospitalized, and distressed over his future as he faced the amputation of his leg, remembered a momentous day. A friend (who was being treated for a bullet wound) walked up to Bolte’s bed, triumphantly waving a copy of Ernest Hemingway’s The Fifth Column and the First Forty-Nine Stories, which he had found in the hospital library. Bolte found comfort in a story about a hero who discovered that crying relieved the pain in his broken leg. Until then, Bolte had never dared cry. The story convinced him to cover his head with his blankets and give it a try. “It helped me, too,” Bolte said. Although he endured multiple amputation surgeries, Bolte turned to reading throughout his hospitalization and credited books with helping him mend and move forward.

When Books Went to War by Molly Guptill Manning

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