The other escape: Books and reading to prisoners during World War I

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This article studies a largely unexplored phenomenon by the historiography of the Great War: the organization of libraries and reading services to prisoners. The starting point is the problem that represented for the belligerent countries the aid to a number of prisoners without precedents. Its aid through reading supplies demonstrated a combatant profile different from any previous war. Most men were literate and familiar with reading. The article describes the institutional network that took part in the selection and shipping of reading material, as well as the vicissitudes and obstacles that should be overcome to distribute it. Three main types of reading are emphasized: religious works, instructive texts and press, and its meaning among the men is valued. In the preparation of the article it had been consulted bibliographical and archival sources.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)525-554
JournalHispania - Revista Espanola de Historia
Issue number247
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Books
  • Great War
  • Libraries
  • Press
  • Prisoners
  • Reading


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