“The Library of Congress Goes to War” in AMERICAN TREASURES (+ a Giveaway!)

In AMERICAN TREASURES: The Secret Efforts to Save the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Gettysburg Address, Stephen Puleo tells the dramatic, never-before-told history of America’s efforts to protect the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Gettysburg Address, plus the key role played by Librarian of Congress Archibald MacLeish during WWII.

Stephen Puleo has a message for you, but first, we’re giving away finished copies to the first 5 librarians to email Library@MacmillanUSA.com from your professional/library-issued e-mail address (subject: American Treasures). Make sure to include your library’s mailing address. Good luck!

UPDATE 8/31/16: This giveaway is now closed and the winners have been notified.


An engrossing account of the creation, consecration, and conservation of the documents that defined American democracy. Readers will take away a new appreciation for the vision and savvy of government officials in finding ways to insure such treasures would survive.” — Library Journal

“A solid retelling of an inspiring story.” — Kirkus Reviews

“This unique, easily digestible, well-researched saga is ideal for general readers.” Booklist

“Stephen Puleo once again educates, enlightens, and entertains us, this time through the history of the most important documents of our democracy. A tour de force based on exhaustive research into both primary and secondary sources, he tells the miraculous stories of the survival of the most precious evidence of our freedom thanks to, until now, the unsung heroes and heroines of our past.” — David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, National Archives, Washington D.C.

And now, a message from author Stephen Puleo…

Dear Librarian,
First, I want to say what a privilege it has been to work with so many wonderful librarians while researching my books over the years. I have spent a large part of my author life seeking help from librarians and I’m always amazed and impressed with the thoroughness, professionalism, and cheerfulness with which they approach their work. I owe librarians a debt of gratitude.

I’m writing today to let you know that my sixth book, AMERICAN TREASURES: The Secret Efforts to Save the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Gettysburg Address, will be published this fall by St. Martin’s Press – and I’m very excited about it. For the first time, the book tells the full story of the unprecedented effort to preserve the documentary history of American democracy, focusing on the nation’s “crown jewels” – our most important and priceless documents.

The braided narrative focuses on 1.) the secret WWII transfer of these and thousands of other documents from the Library of Congress to locations outside of Washington D.C. for safekeeping shortly after the Pearl Harbor attack – officials were fearful that Washington was next on enemy target lists; and 2) the creation, protection, and preservation of our priceless documents throughout American history – including the Continental Congress’s decision to declare independence and adopt the Declaration in 1776; the Constitutional Convention of 1787; the British burning of Washington in 1814, in which the Declaration, the Constitution, and many other documents and papers were barely rescued; America’s “Fiftieth Jubilee” on July 4, 1826, on which both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died, forever imbuing the Fourth of July with a providential aura; and much, much more. In essence, AMERICAN TREASURES uses the nation’s priceless documents to trace the arc of American history.

Of particular interest to librarians, I think, is the key role played during the Second World War by Librarian of Congress Archibald MacLeish. Not only did MacLeish oversee the transfer of documents, but he also placed the Library of Congress on a “war footing” in several other ways:
• providing military planners with extensive world maps
• staffing President Roosevelt’s Office of Facts and Figures (OFF), and later, the Office of War Information (OWI)
• answering questions from reporters, diplomats, and members of the military
• leading the effort to protect and preserve irreplaceable documents, paintings, photographs, and other “essentials of culture” in the United States
• Perhaps most importantly, the Library of Congress assisted America’s early intelligence networks by working as spies with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). More than fifty Library of Congress staff members became some of America’s earliest spies when they went to work for William “Wild Bill” Donovan, the first OSS director, a story largely untold.

“The Library of Congress goes to war,” was the theme of many press and academic accounts in 1941 and 1942. MacLeish not only led the effort to safeguard America’s important historical documents, but he converted the machinery of the Library of Congress to meet the information demands of the war effort in no less a fashion than American factories transformed themselves to meet the industrial and production demands of war. He believed libraries, academics, writers, and thinkers had a duty to resist fascism and to promote the virtues of American democracy.

For your patrons who have enjoyed DARK TIDE, A CITY SO GRAND, THE CANING, or any of my other books, I think they will find AMERICAN TREASURES informative and entertaining. I think AMERICAN TREASURES is a rousingly good story that you, your staff, and your patrons will enjoy. You can email me at spuleo@aol.com if you have questions or to schedule an appearance. And again, my sincere thanks to all librarians for the outstanding support and encouragement you’ve given me and other authors–we deeply appreciate it.

Best Regards,
Steve Puleo

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