The Aleutian Islands, a mostly forgotten portion of the United
States on the southwest coast of Alaska, have often assumed a key role
in American military strategy. W.H. Seward, the US secretary of state
who brokered the purchase of Alaska, believed that the acquisition
would permit the United States to dominate the Pacific. In the 1990s,
Bill Clinton attempted to install an American ballistic missile defence
system on the islands. But for most Americans, prior to the Second
World War, the bleak and barren islands were of far less interest than
In Stepping Stones to Nowhere, Galen Perras shows how that
changed with the Japanese occupation of the western Aleutians, which
climaxed in the horrendous battle for Attu. Efforts to make the area a
major theatre of war rivalling Europe or the South Pacific foundered,
but certainly not for lack of effort. The campaign was unique in its
involvement of Britain, the Soviet Union, and Canada. Perras reveals
how this clash in the North Pacific demonstrated serious problems with
the way that American civilian and military decision makers sought to
incite a global conflict.
Thoroughly researched and accessible, this book will be invaluable
to military and naval historians as well as those with a general
interest in the history of the Second World War.
Galen Perras is an archivist at the National Archives of Canada and the author of Franklin Roosevelt and the Origins of the Canadian-American Security Alliance, 1933-1945.
Introduction 1 One of Our Great Strategic Points: Alaskan Defence, 1867-1934 2 He Who Holds Alaska Will Hold the World: Alaskan Security, 1934-41 3 Entirely Open to Attack: Aleutian Defence, December 1941 to June 1942 4 All commanders on minor fronts regard their own actions as highly important: July 1942 to January 1943 5 Total Destruction Is the Only Answer: Westward to Attu 6 A Strong Alaska Means a Foot-Loose Fleet: Kiska's Capture 7 We Have Opened the Door to Tokyo: Plans to Take the Kurile Islands, 1943-5 8 Stepping Stones to Nowhere Notes Bibliography Index