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. But for most Americans, prior to the Second World War, the bleak and barren islands were of little interest. 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. 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.
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.
This interesting, important, and largely untold story gets the attention it deserves in this carefully detailed book.
In this insightful, stimulating, and extraordinarily well-researched new book, Galen Roger Perras explores the dimensions of the long-vanished Mercator Projection world before the 1940s, when the northernmost reaches of the planet, and in particular the Aleutian Islands, were still a strategic dead end. Perras look in detail at the evolution of the Aleutian Chain and Alaska in US military thinking during the critical years of the 1930s and 1940s. This book is a wonderful reminder that in war, as in the rest of life, a compelling idea need not have any basis in reality to shape the world in which we live.
The result is a comprehensive study which, rather than portraying the Aleutian campaign merely as a quixotic and ultimately inconsequential operation, explores the competing opinions and interests that led to the battles of Attu and Kiska. Stepping Stones to Nowhere succeeds in placing American activities in Alaska and the Aleutians during the Second World War, often dismissed as trivial in the historiography, into a broader context than has hitherto been recognized.