A Little Money Can Do a Lot of Good

I don't want to set a precedent of becoming a venue for fund-raising appeals. There are too many deserving candidates. But on a one-time basis, the note I received today from Len Edgerly, of the Kindle Chronicles, seems to me so sensible, and so modest in its needs, that it is worth sharing -- especially at a moment when many people are thinking about ways to mend the civic fabric. Edgerly writes:

>>I'm looking for potential major donors to E-Books for Troops (EB4T), a 501(c)(3) that I co-founded in 2010.

It turns out that e-readers are a fantastic technology for support of soldiers in the field, giving them access to virtually unlimited reading material in a lightweight device, for use on duty and for recreation in downtime.

Having no military experience myself, I partnered with a former Army artillery officer, Ken Clark, whom I met through my Kindle Chronicles podcast, in order to create EB4T. We have collected tax-deductible donations of cash and used Kindles through our web site, http://EBooksForTroops.org and have so far distributed 20 Kindles to U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. Our goal for 2011 is to raise $20,000 enabling us to distribute 120 more Kindles to soldiers.

I thought you might know of a family foundation or other funder that focuses on support for troops, or perhaps a Kindle enthusiast or two at the Pentagon who might want to contribute and help spread the word.<<

american-solider-reading-normandy.jpgI don't really know of anyone in the categories Edgerly mentions, but I encourage people who might, or who would like to contribute themselves, to contact him: Len <at> ebooksfortroops.org. And FYI, part of their mission statement -- which is also the source of the photo of a GI reading at Normandy:

>> Our soldiers, airmen, Marines, and sailors make innumerable sacrifices to protect our freedoms and way of life. When deployed, our troops must find a way to live in environments that at best, offer few of the "creative comforts" of life at home and do so while being extremely limited in the personal items they can bring with them overseas.

Additionally, an aspect of a deployed soldier's life that is commonly overlooked is that he, or she, must also find ways to pass the downtime that inevitably occurs during a deployment. It probably comes as no surprise then, that reading has always been one of the primary activities of our troops as they rest and renew for what lies ahead.

With that said, there's a problem - books take up a significant amount of space! For obvious reasons, it would be extremely challenging for any military to build or bring a "field library" during an overseas deployment. Instead, it is common for soldiers to rotate books from person to person and to read the same book multiple times during a single deployment as a way to pass the time and get a break from the stresses inherent in their profession.<<

I first met Edgerly decades ago, and while I haven't seen him in many years I know enough about him to vouch for his integrity and purpose.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


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