Instructions for American Servicemen in France During World War IIHardback
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- Publisher: University of Chicago Press
- Format: Hardback | 84 pages
- Dimensions: 122mm x 155mm x 15mm | 113g
- Publication date: 6 June 2008
- Publication City/Country: Chicago, IL
- ISBN 10: 0226841723
- ISBN 13: 9780226841724
- Sales rank: 741,661
"You are about to play a personal part in pushing the Germans out of France. Whatever part you take - rifleman, hospital orderly, mechanic, pilot, clerk, gunner, truck driver - you will be an essential factor in a great effort."As American soldiers began the liberation of France in June 1944, every soldier carried that reminder in his kit. "Instructions for American Servicemen in France during World War II" was issued to soldiers just before they embarked for France to help them understand both why they were going and what they'd find when they got there. This remarkable guide is now available in a new facsimile edition that reproduces the full text and illustrations of the original along with a new introduction by Rick Atkinson setting the book in context.The pamphlet is equal parts guidebook, cultural snapshot, and propaganda piece. A central aim is to dispel any prejudices American soldiers may have about the French - especially relating to their quick capitulation in 1940. Warning soldiers that the defeat "is a raw spot which the Nazis have been riding" since the occupation began, Instructions is careful to highlight France's long historical role as a major U.S. ally. Following that is a brief sketch of the French character ("The French are mentally quick;" "Rich or poor, they are economical") and stark reminders of the deprivation the French have endured. Yet an air of reassuring confidence pervades the final section of the pamphlet, which reads like a straightforward tourists' guide to Paris and the provinces - like a promise of better days to come.Written by anonymous War Department staffers to meet the urgent needs of the moment, with no thought of its historical value, "Instructions for American Servicemen in France during World War II" nevertheless brings to vivid life the closing years of World War II - when optimism was growing, but a long, demanding road still lay ahead.
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"Amid the mountains of war materiel accumulating in southern England in the spring of 1944 were crates of a slender, highly classified book intended to give Allied soldiers a sense of the country they would soon overrun. One million copies of what was then titled A Pocket Guide to France had been requested by the War Department in a top secret message, making the little volume among the most ambitious publishing ventures of World War II." - Rick Atkinson, from the Introduction"