Kathy Peiss is the Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Professor of American History at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Cheap Amusements: Working Women and Leisure in Turn-of-the-Century New York, Hope in a Jar: The Making of America's Beauty Culture, and Zoot Suit: The Enigmatic Career of an Extreme Style. A Fellow of the Society of American Historians, she has served as a consultant to museums, archives, documentary films, and public history projects.
This well-written and astutely researched book makes the wartime work of librarians engaging and engrossing. Those fascinated by intelligence missions or keen on the history of library science will appreciate this excellent read. -- Library Journal (starred review) Information Hunters is Kathy Peiss's wonderfully surprising history of a little-known, World War II intelligence effort to gather newspapers, magazines, books, and every other kind of printed information about business, science, and ordinary life in Germany and occupied Europe. Working mainly through cities in neutral countries a Lisbon, Stockholm, Bern, and the like a agents quietly arranged to gather bundles, then truckloads, finally ship- and train-loads of books and paper for analysts to study. It's a beautiful piece of scholarship that reveals the war in a new light -- as a struggle for knowledge and truth. -- Thomas Powers, author of Heisenbergas War: The Secret History of the German Bomb This fascinating book tells the story of the American librarians who set out on vast collecting missions amidst the destruction of World War II Europe. Cultural historian Kathy Peiss deftly reconstructs their work here, showing how librarians shaped the war and, in turn, how the war re-shaped libraries and librarianship. Beautifully told, this surprising story provides a valuable new perspective on the historical connection between war and the production of knowledge. -- Lisa Moses Leff, American University Kathy Peiss uncovers fascinating episodes in the history of information: the World War II entanglement of bibliography and spycraft as well as the postwar dilemmas of denazifying German culture while also dealing with cultural heritage collections that the Nazis left orphaned in their double project of confiscation and genocide. With its lucid attention to 'open source' intelligence gathering, incipient 'archive-consciousness,' and the anxieties of American influence on the world, this is history that is at once powerful and timely. -- Lisa Gitelman, New York University Kathy Peissas Information Hunters tells the fascinating and important story of the American archivists and librarians who, during World War II, helped rescue, preserve, and repatriate huge numbers of books, newspapers, and manuscripts looted by the Nazis or otherwise hidden from sight. Their principal objectives were to confiscate and, in many cases, destroy Nazi materials and to locate and return or redistribute looted Jewish books. Many books wound up in American libraries and archives, greatly boosting their size and prestige, and helping to develop the field of information science. -- John B. Hench, author of Books as Weapons: Propaganda, Publishing, and the Battle for Global Markets in the Era of World War II Through savvy research Kathy Peiss has uncovered the enormous historical, ethical, and personal stakes of Americans' overseas efforts to collect -- or destroy -- the printed word during World War II. Her vivid account follows teams of scholars who scoured Europe's bookstores, battered cities, castles, and caves in search of material that bore witness to the continent's cultural heritage as well as its lies, secrets, and crimes. Pulling a book off the shelf of an American research library will never be the same after reading Information Hunters. -- Brooke L. Blower, author of Becoming Americans in Paris: Transatlantic Politics and Culture between the World Wars