Book History

Author: MacDougall, Michael
There is very little information available on author Michael MacDougall who was also known as Mickey. The opening of Danger in the Cards describes MacDougall as a card detective for the last fifteen years who “has been hunting down men and women who cheat at cards, dice, roulette, and other come-ons for suckers.” MacDougall has penned a number of books dealing with advice on how to spot cheats as well as gambling strategies.
Bibliographic Information
-Publisher- Ziff-Davis Publishing Company, Chicago

-Note- Overseas edition for the Armed Forces, distributed by Special Services Division, A.S.F., for the Army, and by the Bureau of Naval Personnel for the Navy. U.S. Government Property. Not for sale. It has been published by Editions for the Armed Services, Inc., a non-profit organization established by the Council on Books in Wartime New York.

-Number of pages- 319

-Danger in the Cards was copyrighted by Michael MacDougall in 1943.
Physical Description
The book has a paperback binding that has been secured with glue and a single staple. The paper is very thin and highly acidic; the pages have begun to yellow and are very fragile. The dimensions of the book are 5 ½ x 4 inches and 7/16ths of an inch thick. Danger in the Cards is stored in a protective box in the rare books room. It had previously been stored on the shelf with other volumes where it was subject to damage because of its fragile construction.
Illustrator: N/A
Publisher: Editions for the Armed Services, Inc. (Ziff-Davis)
The publisher of Danger in the Cards was Ziff-Davis Publication Company which was based out of Chicago. Ziff-Davis and other publishers gave the Editions for the Armed Services permission to publish their works. According to, “Ziff-Davis was founded in Chicago by William Ziff, Sr. and Bernard Davis. It evolved into a highly respected publishing empire” that has evolved into “a leading integrated media company that serves the computer and consumer lifestyle markets.”
Danger in the Cards was originally published in 1943 by Ziff-Davis Publication Company and according to OCLC FirstSearch Resource there are 34 copies of this book in libraries worldwide. The Editions for the Armed Services edition I am researching was printed in 1944 and according to OCLC FirstSearch Resource there are only six available in libraries worldwide.

Source: OCLC FirstSearch WorldCat Resource, sv. “Michael MacDougall,

A History of the Council on Books in Wartime 1942-1946. New York: The Country Life Press, 1946.

Ballou, Robert. A History of the Council on Books in Wartime 1942-1946. New York: Council on Books in Wartime, 1946.

Cole, John Y. Books in Action: The Armed Services Editions. Washington: The Center for the Book Library of Congress, 1984.

Jamieson, John Alden. Books for the Army: The Army Library Service in the Second World War. New York: Columbia University Press, 1950.

Jamieson, John Alden. Editions for the Armed Services, inc., A History. New York, 1948.

Koch, Theodore Wesley. Books in the War: The Romance of Library War Service. Boston: Houghton Mufflin Company The Riverside Press, 1919.

MacDougall, Michael. Danger in the Cards or How to Spot a Crooked Gambler (Armed Services Edition). Chicago: Ziff-Davis,1944.


Bruccoli, M.J. “Imposition of Armed Services Editions.” American Notes & Queries 1 (September 1962): 6.

Kelly, Keith J. “Into the Age of Conglomerates.” Advertising Age 66 (July 1995): 29.

Loss, Christopher P. “Reading Between Enemy Lines: Armed Services Editions and World War II.” Journal of Military History 67 (July 2003): 811-34.

Newman, Caitlin. “A Few Square Inches of Home.” World War II 26 (Nov/Dec 2011): 68-73.

Ray, Robin Hazard. “Charge of the Lit Brigade.” Civilization 6 (Oct/Nov 1999): 114.

Wittels, David G. “What the G.I. Reads.” Saturday Evening Post 217 (June 1945): 11-92.

Zeitchik, Steven. “Project Looks to Create Army of Readers.” Publishers Weekly 249 (November 2002): 19.


Books Go to War: The Armed Services Editions in World War Two. (accessed February 19, 2013).

“Ziff Davis Inc.”,1237,t=Ziff+Davis+Inc&i=62714, p (accessed February 19, 2013). “Michael MacDougall.” FirstSearch WorldCat Resource (accessed Feburary 18, 2013).
Michael MacDougall’s American Service Edition book Danger in the Cards or How to Spot a Crooked Gambler is a rare survivor of a genre of books that had an enormous impact on United States book history, despite the fact that ASE books were never built to last.(1) During the early stages of World War II, American soldiers complained about, as one soldier put it, “scarcity of reading matter” available to them.(2) This complaint was taken very seriously by the U.S. War Department, and in 1942 they created Editions for The Armed Services Inc., or ASE for short. Scarcity of reading material during war was not a new problem; during World War I, the United States had promoted book drives to ship reading material to soldiers fighting overseas. This strategy was initially adopted during World War II as well, but supplying the donated books proved to be difficult to organize and ship, and in many cases, the donated books never reached their intended target.(3)

Initially, the Council on Books in Wartime came up against opposition from publishers who argued that the ASE books would threaten their domestic commercial market.(4) The council decided that in order for the ASE books to not affect the civilian market, the books would be made government property intended only for members of the U.S. military and would be manufactured in such a way that would make the books disposable. The ASE created strict guidelines for manufacturing the books. The first and most important element was the size of the books, which had to fit into a soldier’s pocket for easy portability and shipping. The reason for the exact sizes were to “take advantage of some of the biggest production equipment in the country.”(5) The paper on which the books were printed was very thin and highly acidic which cut costs and made the books fragile. Combining the high efficiency and speed of modern printing machines with inexpensive materials enabled the ASE to produce “123,535,305 books at a total cost of $7,143,000.00” which “makes the Editions for the Armed Services one of the largest enterprises in the history of American book publishing.” (6)

Michael MacDougall’s ASE Danger in the Cards, located in the University of Mary Washington’s rare books room, is a remarkably well preserved example of an ASE book. The book is not without its signs of age as the highly acidic paper has begun to yellow and the single staple used to bind the paperback has developed rust. Carolyn S. Parsons, the Special Collections Librarian at Mary Washington, shared that the collection of ASE books had originally been kept in the stacks along with other hard bound books, but due to their fragile nature, the ASE books had to be moved to the rare books room in order to preserve them. It is an important task to preserve these ASE books as they represent a tangible link between the present and the remarkable events and people of World War II. An element of the war few have ever heard of left a lasting impression on soldiers who read them. As historian Caitlin Newman argued, the ASE books “did shape and in some cases create the reading habits of an entire generation.” (7)

(1) Michael MacDougall, Danger in the Cards or How to Spot a Crooked Gambler (Armed Services Edition), (Chicago: Ziff-Davis, 1943).

(2) Robert O. Ballou, A History of The Council on Books in Wartime 1942-1946, (New York: Country Life Press, 1946), 64.

(3) Caitlin Newman, “A Few Square Inches of Home,” World War II 26, no. 4 (Nov./Dec. 2011): 70, (accessed March 10, 2013).

(4) Ballou, A History of The Council on Books, 65.

(5) Ibid., 75.

(6) Ibid., 80.

(7) Newman, "A Few Square Inches of Home," 70.

Submitted by Jason Milton
Published: 1943
Call Number: RARE GV 1247 .M25 1943