Des Moines

Library Spotlight: One World

Now through the end of May, an edition of One World by Wendell Willkie will be one display in the Salisbury House Library.

Trained as a lawyer, Willkie began his political career as a Democrat, but became a Republican in 1939. He countered many of the isolationist opinions about WWII, calling for internationalism abroad and equality in the US. Willkie ran as a Republican Candidate in the 1944 Presidential election, but suddenly died in the fall of that same year. Today he is remembered as an influential statesman and activist.

One World is an account of Willkie’s 49 day trip around the world, where he chronicled the impact of World War II. Originally released in 1943, One World spent 4 months at the top of the New York Times bestseller list, selling 1.5 million copies over this time. It remains one of the greatest nonfiction bestsellers in history and is credited as a perspective shifting book for many Americans.

The exterior of One World – photograph provided by Grinnell College.

In One World Willkie sought to impart to Americans an understanding of an interconnected world and that “our thinking in the future must be world-wide.” Through his travels he met with citizens and world leaders of Allied nations, chronicling particularly his visits to Cairo, Russia, and China. In his writing he advocates for the end to colonialism, calls for international collaboration, and the necessity of civil rights in the US.

The volume on display was produced by the Limited Editions Club in 1944 as a photographic album edition. Willkie’s groundbreaking account is accompanied by photographs assembled from press agencies and photographers around the world to document “the faces and the places that Willkie saw”. Designed by George Macy, the book was printed and bound by the American Book-Staford Press to include a leather spine and a reproduction of a painting of the cosmos by D. Owen Stephens. All 1500 copies are signed by the author.

A scan of pages 76 & 77 of One World – photograph provided by Grinnell College

If you are interested in visiting Salisbury House and seeing this edition of One World yourself, visit our website for up-to-date hours and further details. You can also learn more about the Salisbury House Library Collection by visiting Special Collections at the Grinnell College Libraries.

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