The Aleutian Islands, a mostly forgotten portion of the UnitedStates on the southwest coast of Alaska, have often assumed a key rolein American military strategy. W.H. Seward, the US secretary of statewho brokered the purchase of Alaska, believed that the acquisitionwould permit the United States to dominate the Pacific. In the 1990s,Bill Clinton attempted to install an American ballistic missile defencesystem on the islands. But for most Americans, prior to the SecondWorld War, the bleak and barren islands were of far less interest thanthe Philippines.
In Stepping Stones to Nowhere, Galen Perras shows how thatchanged with the Japanese occupation of the western Aleutians, whichclimaxed in the horrendous battle for Attu. Efforts to make the area amajor theatre of war rivalling Europe or the South Pacific foundered,but certainly not for lack of effort. The campaign was unique in itsinvolvement of Britain, the Soviet Union, and Canada. Perras revealshow this clash in the North Pacific demonstrated serious problems withthe way that American civilian and military decision makers sought toincite a global conflict.
Thoroughly researched and accessible, this book will be invaluableto military and naval historians as well as those with a generalinterest in the history of the Second World War.
Galen Perras is an archivist at the National Archivesof Canada and the author of Franklin Roosevelt and the Origins ofthe 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 June1942 4 All commanders on minor fronts regard their own actions as highlyimportant: 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'sCapture 7 We Have Opened the Door to Tokyo: Plans to Take the KurileIslands, 1943-5 8 Stepping Stones to Nowhere Notes Bibliography Index