The Aleutians
The Lands of 50 mph Fog
Many visitors to our website have requested we compile a bibliography of all the books and videos that we are aware of (or made aware of) that relate to the Aleutians or to WWII in the Aleutians. The first two books one should read include a definitive book written by Brian Garfield, "The Thousand Mile War," and a book I captured from e-Bay entitled "The Capture of Attu" (I was first made aware of this book through Rene Thibault, a WWII Attu Vet and contributor to this web site, who shared with me his personal paperback copy obtained in the closing days of the war). Each of the additional books provide insights from different perspectives that when taken in their totality provide an excellent and complete picture of life in the Aleutians before, during, and after WWII. If you have additional items relative to these events, please e-mail your contribution, and I'll add them to the page.
Attu Boy by Nick Golodoff, with Rachel Mason, Editor, 2012. Copies of this book can be obtained by contacting Greg Dixon, Cultural Resource Technician, Cultural Resources Team, Alaska Regional Office, at (907) 644-3465. The National Park Service is pleased to make available the story of a young boy's experiences as a Japanese captive and intern during WWII, and of his resettlement in Atka after the war. For those of us who'd wondered about life on Attu just before WWII and during the initial Japanese invasion and capture of Attu and its inhabitants, as well as their lives spent in captivity in Japan during the war, this book is a must read! It is replete with numerous black and white as well as color photos, maps, and charts of Attu and its inhabitants of that time. Call or write the contact info provided above for your copy today!
The Thousand Mile War by Brian Garfield, 1995. ISBN 0-912006-83-8. This is an updated version of Brian's 1969 original, and is published through the University of Alaskan Press, Fairbanks, AK. There are great updates to the original in terms of both printed material and pictures. Very well done...a reference book for all when studying WWII in the Aleutians. (Ref. George Smith)
The Capture of Attu...As told by the men who fought there Copyright 1944 by Infantry Journal, Inc. (out of print...can find used copies through (Ref. Rene Thibault, George Smith)
The Capture of Attu...As told by the men who fought there compiled by Mitchell, Tyng, and Drummond. ISBN 080329557X, Paperback, 192 pages. Paperback, Bison Books Corp. This is a reprint of the original (see above). Find it on for $9.60 (current as of 6-10-2001). (Ref. George Smith)
Aleutian Islands - The U.S. Army Campaigns of World War II by George L. MacGarrigle, 1992. ISBN 0-16-035882-5. For sale by the U. S. Government Printing Office, Superintendent of Documents, Mail Stop: SSOP, Washington, DC 20402-9328. "World War II was the largest and most violent armed conflict in the history of mankind. However, the half century that now separates us from that conflict has exacted its toll on our collective knowledge. While World War II continues to absorb the interest of military scholars and historians, as well as its veterans, a generation of Americans has grown to maturity largely unaware of the political, social, and military implications of a war that, more than any other, united us as a people with a common purpose. This brochure was prepared in the U. S. Army Center of Military History by George L. MacGarrigle. I hope this absorbing account of that period will enhance your appreciation of American achievements during World War II." M. P. W. Stone, Secretary of the Army. (USGPO: 1992 302-270 PIN: 068914- 000. Ref. George Smith)
Last Letters from Attu The True Story of Etta Jones, Alaska Pioneer and Japanese POW by Mary Breu ISBN-10: 0882408100, ISBN-13: 978-0882408101 Web Site: Etta Jones, my great-aunt, was the first female Caucasian taken prisoner from American soil by a foreign enemy since the War of 1812. The historical incident took place in June, 1942, when the Japanese invaded Attu, Alaska, the westernmost island in the Aleutian Chain. Until now, the sequence of events leading up to her capture as well as her experiences in Japanese POW camps for thirty-nine months have never been accurately documented. Hers is a story of incredible bravery and courage when faced with adversity. Mary Breu. Cover photo from the book "Ichimai no shashin o otte Aryushan o yuku" by Masami Sugiyama
The Last Flight of Bomber 31 by Ralph Wetterhan Harrowing Tales of American and Japanese Pilots Who Fought in World War II's Arctic Air Campaign by Ralph Wetterhan. ISBN-13: 978-0786713608 Through meticulous research and unprecedented interviews with Japanese and American combatants, award-winning author Ralph Wetterhahn provides a breathtaking account of the nose-to-tail air war between American and Japanese flyers above the Bering Sea. Dubbed riders of thE Empire Express, American pilots stationed in the Aleutians flew nine-hour missions, 1,500 miles round-trip in subzero temperatures, to bomb Japanese installations in the Kuril Islands. While on his ongoing quest to give a full account of MIAs and POWs, Wetterhahn investigated the crash sites of two Empire Express planes found in the Soviet Far East in 2000 and 2001, and here re-creates their crews daunting exploits. With unrivaled mastery of aviation, warfare, and military forensic evidence, Wetterhahn rescues from obscurity the final moments of U.S. Navy pilot Walt S. Whitman, who made a forced landing with his crew on the Kamchatka Peninsula. He also details the missions flown by Japanese pilots and the fate of Japanese captured by the Soviets and interned in Siberia. This is a moving testament to the impulse to account for all servicemen left behind. ( It is a great description of the US Navy Lockheed PV-1 Ventura bomber missions flown from Attu to bomb the Kuril Islands and the 21st century discovery of one of the downed bombers on the Kamchatka Peninsula. The plane was also the subject of a PBS Nova episode which I have yet to see. NOVA | Last Flight of Bomber 31 | PBS A A picture of one of these planes is on my dad's website sq-11th-usaaf#!untitled/zoom/c1n0f/imagecf9 (Andy Kozlowski)
Shortcut to Tokyo, The Battle for the Aleutians, Corey Ford. This was a welcome Christmas gift to me from my wife this year (2010). A quick read as there are only 141 pages to this book. It was published in New York by Charles Scribner's Sons in 1943, selling then for $1.75. Ford details flights from then not-identified islands (would be Umnak, Adak and Amchitka) on their way to bomb Kiska...then held by the Japanese. On a personal level, this book gets close to the missions, the pilots and crews of the medium and heavy bombers, the rescue aircraft, as well as the "pea shooters," as they lived, flew, and fought in the Aleutians up to 1943. Additional chapters looks back at visits by Ford to the Aleutians prior to the war breaking out, a brief history of the Aleutians and the Aleuts, and discusses suspicions the Aleuts harbored about the many Japanese visits to the Aleutians just prior to the outbreak of WWII, talks about Attu Chief Mike, the sea otters, vegetation, and bird populations of the Aleutians. A quick look and comparison at the end of the book into the lives of two a union factory worker in the USA building the planes, and another look at an Aleutian AAF pilot flying bombers made by him...and their mutual desires and hopes for their families. Might bring a tear to your eyes. Book is hard to find...I found one used copy on, who referenced Abebooks. Worthwhile obtaining and reading!
Center of the Storm The Bombing of Dutch Harbor and the Experience of Patrol Wing Four in the Aleutians, Summer 1942 by Jeff Dickrell. ISBN 1575100924. Available from the Museum of the Aleutians Store in addition to other booksellers. Call 907-581-5150 to get your copy from the Museum (Jeff donated the whole package to the museum). Jeff Dickrell arrived in Unalaska, Alaska in 1990 from Naperville, Illinois, to teach high school history. Immersing himself in Aleutian history, especially the WW II era, he is a board member of the Museum of the Aleutians and a researcher for the National Park WW II Interpretive Center in Unalaska. An annual class trip to Washington DC allowed him much access to the National Archives Still Picture Division. In 1997 and 1999 the Patrol Wing Four Association invited Jeff to their reunion where he had a chance to meet with the many veterans he had been corresponding with for this book. He continues to enjoy the friendships made there. Jeff has a B.A. in history from Northern Illinois University. When not in front of a class or his computer, he can usually be found paddling his kayak or hiking the hills of Unalaska.
The Forgotten War by Stan Cohen, Library of Congress Catalog Card no. 81-80570. This is a four-volume set, and has pictures of the U.S.S. St. Mihiel, John Fahey's ship seeing duty in the Aleutians! (Ref. John Fahey) Volume 1: ISBN 0-933126-13-1. Volume 2: ISBN 0-933126-70-0 Volume 3: ISBN 0-929521-30-7 Volume 4: ISBN 0-929521-64-1 From Rene Thibault: This is a pictorial history of WWII in Alaska and Northwestern Canada. To quote in part from the intro, "In most combat theaters of the 2nd World War the combatants had to fight only each other. In Alaska and Northwestern Canada, however, they also did battle with the weather, the wilderness and boredom. This remote territory was probably the war's least known and least publicized combat zone. the books can be bought at or can be ordered from the author for $14.95 each at the following address: Pictorial Histories Publishing Co. Inc, 713 South Third Street West, Missoula, MT 59801. If you can't find these books via, here's the link to Pictorial Histories Publishing homepage:
Men of the Invisible War by Joe Kotvas ISBN 978-1-937129-34-7 The true story of a war (with sixty photographs) that was kept from the American people, a war fought right in its own backyard from June 1942 through September 1943. It tells of how the governments of both the United States and Japan tried to keep a part of WWII secret and how it was years before citizens had any idea it ever happened. It's a story of love, faith, and hardships, suffering and dying...from a perspective seen by both sides of the conflict.
They Also Serve by Ian Wilson Beaton. Published by Xlibris Corporation, 436 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19106. ISBN 0-7388-2391-0. I am a WWII veteran who spent 25 months in the Aleutian Islands (21 months on Shemya in the Post Engineer), 11/43 to 7/45. I was a clerk, truck driver and 20mm AA gunner. My book is based on WWII research and excerpts from 300 letters I wrote to my family has just been published. You can read about me and several chapters of my book on the following web sites: My book can be purchased from Barns and Noble, Borders, or from the publisher. I think anyone who served in the Aleutians during WWII would get a real kick reading it. (Ref. Ian Beaton) (NOTE: I finished reading Ian's book on the 7th of July, 2004. I can attest to the fact that regardless of when you lived on Shemya, you will find a lot of common experiences with Ian even to this very day! This book is a great read, describing day-to-day life on the Shemya of WWII times. George Smith)
CIEL DE GUERRE N.10 SEPT.-OCT.-NOV. 2006 Aleutians : the forgotten battle (part 1) Who does remember today that during Word War 2, the Aleutians were an advanced theatre of operations against Japan? As a diversionary move in conjunction with their strike against Midway, the Japanese bombed Dutch Harbor in June 1942 and landed troops on Kiska and Attu, the westernmost islands of the Aleutians. The Japanese remained, primarily in a defensive situation, to prevent any movement by American forces toward Japan through the Aleutians chain. Aerial operations by Japan and by the fighter and bomber units of 11th Air Force were often restricted by severe weather. The 15 months of the campaign turned out to be a struggle against nature rather than against rival enemy forces! The 11th Air Force knew many losses, in most cases, caused by accidents. P-38s, P39s, P-40s, B-24s, B-25s and B-26s led continuous attacks on Japanese installations. In May 1943, American forces seized Attu after a bloody battle. First step to the recapture of the Aleutians and to the raids against the Northern Kuriles, the Japanese home islands. This subject which remains unknown to many will be done in two parts in "Ciel de Guerre" by Arnaud Prudhomme and Stéphane Soulard. [Note: This quality magazine is loaded with great photos, battle maps, drawings of aircraft serving in the Aleutian Theater of War, tables of aircraft and related information, along with personal stories...printed on heavy glossy paper. While printed in French it is an excellent reference source for those interested in Aleutian WWII history. You will find some of this web site's photos and stories in this magazine. This magazine is primarily available in Europe, but you can get a copy of your own through PayPal. For more information, and to get a copy of this magazine, click HERE.
The Aleutian Warriors, A History of the 11th Air Force & Fleet Air Wing 4 by John Haile Cloe. This is a great reference book, filled with stories and pictures of the war in the Aleutians. A "must have" of 344 pages for every library! ISBN 0-929521-35-8, list price $19.95 for the softbound copy. (Ref. George Smith)
Birthplace of the Winds - Storming Alaska's Islands of Fire and Ice by Jon Bowermaster. Hardcover (February 2001) National Geographic Society; ISBN: 0792275063 ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.04 x 9.26 x 6.29. Currently $26.00 new or $13.90 used (6-30-01) at Review by Russell Marvin: "The book is an account of a 25 day kayaking and mountaineering expedition by the author and 3 of his friends through the Islands of Four Mountains, a group of Aleutian islands located about 150 miles west of Dutch Harbor. In addition to a narrative of his highly dangerous trip, Bowermaster gives a lot of very interesting information on the life of the original Aleut inhabitants of these islands. Good reading for the armchair adventurer."
From Sailing Ships to Spitfires by Shirley Walker. Paperback (ISBN 0888872879) or Hardcover (ISBN 0888872895), the life and times of an immigrant family, whose sons fought in the second World War. Available from Borealis Book Publishers. Includes a section on Canada's involvement in the Aleutian theater during WWII. Click HERE to read extract (PDF file).
The Lockheed P-38 Lightning by Warren M. Bodie, Widewing publications. Bob Freeman highly recommends this book for those interested in the P-38's WW-II history in the Aleutians.
Silent Siege by Bert Weber. Bob Freeman also recommends this book as well. Seems there are a series of books by the same author, including "Silent Siege II," and "Silent Siege III." From "Silent Siege III : Japanese Attacks on North America in World War II : Ships Sunk, Air Raids, Bombs Dropped, Civilians Killed : Documentary
Walkie-Talkie Fanning Bees...Baseball Ambassadors Visit WWII Combat Areas by Prof. Tom Barthel. Tom has written and published this book on baseball players who entertained troops from the Aleutians to New Guinea during WWII. The 105 page book, a Barthel imprint, is 8 1/2' X 11" and wire bound. To either order this book or to find out more about it, go HERE or HERE.
War Comes To Alaska by Norman Edward Rourke The Dutch Harbor Attack, June 3-4, 1942. ISBN 1-57249-028-4 The Japanese attacked Dutch Harbor during the early hours of 3 June, 1942, and again in the afternoon of 4 June. These two attacks were but small parts of a large overall plan to take the island of Midway, draw the U.S. Pacific Naval Fleet into a decisive battle at sea, and to occupy the outer islands of the Aleutian Chain. This book tells the story of the Dutch Harbor attack from both the American and Japanese points of view. Kept secret for morale and security reasons, the Japanese attack and ultimate invasion of the Aleutians was off limits to the American press.
KISKA - The Japanese Occupation of an Alaska Island by Brendan Coyle Published by University of Alaska Press (Fairbanks), distributed by University of Chicago Press, to be published September 2014. Brendan Coyle's upcoming new book records 51 days in 2009 spent camped on Kiska while surveying the island for signs of the Japanese occupation.
WAR ON OUR DOORSTEP by Brendan Coyle ISBN: 1-894384-46-6. The first enemy occupation of U.S. territory since the War of 1812 occurred when Japanese troops stormed the Aleutian Islands in 1942. Bloody conflict raged through the following years, as American and Canadian troops defended the northern front. As the war continued, a Japanese airplane dropped bombs on Oregon, while submarines lurked off Washington and British Columbia. Using the westerly winds as an ally, Tokyo directed a battalion of balloon-bombs that drifted to North America's coast and randomly wreaked havoc. War on our Doorstep presents the fascinating history of a war largely hidden from the public as governments attempted to avert panic from California to Alaska following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Sixty years later, the fascinating events of that era and their impact on both the American and Canadian psyches remain virtually unknown to much of the world. After conducting decades of research and interviews with veterans on both sides of the conflict, author Brendan Coyle reveals details of the previously unknown campaign that included attacks on Oregon, British Columbia, and the harsh battles fought in Alaska. Coyle's captivating 240-page account includes over 110 photographs and maps, which document the era and events. Brendan Coyle has done a magnificent job in this comprehensive review of the war on the West Coast. No other single volume has so neatly tied together the myriad stories of how the war affected people in British Columbia, California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. Jim Delgado, Executive Director, Vancouver Maritime Museum The success of Coyle's text is the use of a narrative time line. He connects the fragmented records of military engagements that ran up and down the Pacific Coast � from California to Alaska � during the years between the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the world's first tactical nuclear weapons.� Patrick Nagle, The Vancouver Sun
The Lost Squadron by David Hayes, ISBN 0-7868-6048-0 Editorial Reviews From Booklist In July_ 1942, two B-17s and six P-38s belly-landed onto the Greenland icecap. Nowadays, except for one of the planes, they are 250 feet under the cap's surface. The exception, now being restored to flight worthiness, was excavated in 1992. The vintage plane world is all agog about this resurrection, and this documentation verily meets every demand for every detail of the expeditions that located and dug out the Lightning fighter. Pictures galore, including insouciant snapshots of their mishap taken in 1942 by the original pilots (all were safely rescued), accent the winding chronicle of discovery and recovery. It started with two Georgian aviators who in 1980 became fixated on finding the planes, infected others with their enthusiasm, and then hauled off to Greenland, ice augurs, ice-penetrating radars, and metal detectors in tow. Author Hayes does this group proud and truthful (he doesn't flinch from telling its infighting and animosities), and airplane aficionados will examine every page, studded as the pages are with hundreds of color photos. Gilbert Taylor Ingram A lavishly illustrated work records the amazing reclamation of a fleet of American World War II warplanes buried in ice in Greenland since the war and recovered by two amateur aviation enthusiasts. 35,000 first printing. This book is currently out of print with limited availability (28Dec02), but might be found on This book was recommended by Harry Higgins, WW-II P-38 Pilot Extraordinaire.
From Pearl Harbor to Calvary by Gordon Prange 350 pages with numerous photos, $9.95 Mitsuo Fuchida was the career aviator who led the attack on Pearl Harbor and participated in the most fiercest battles of the Pacific war. A valuable record of major events, his life's story is also one of a man swept along by his times. Reared in the vanished culture of early twentieth-century Japan, war hero Fuchida returned home to become a simple farmer. After a scandalous love affair came his remarkable conversion to Christ and years of touring the world as an evangelist. God's Samurai is a revealing, personal look at both the war and the century from the Japanese perspective. For additional information, click HERE.
Special Books about Special People
These entries are from Wendy Svarny-Hawthorne. We thank her immensely for her contributions to our Bibliography page. These are books about the Aleut and other tribal peoples of Alaska. When the Wind Was a River: Aleut Evacuation in World War II by Dean Kohlhoff. Published by the University of Washington Press in 1995, ISBN 0-295-97403-6. The late Professor Kohlhoff has assigned his royalties from this publication to the Aleut educational program of the Aleutian/Pribilof Islands Association. Unangam Ungiikangin Kayux Tunusangin * Unangam Uniikangis ama Tunuzangis * AleutTales and Narratives, collected 1909- 1910 by Waldemar Jochelson, edited by Knut Bergsland and Moses L. Dirks. Published by the Alaska Native Language Center, College of Liberal Arts, University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1990, ISBN1-55500-036-3. This is a collection of wax cylinder recordings of storytellers in the years stated that have been carefully transcribed and translated by the editors in both the Aleut language (Unangam Tunuu) and in English. There is a lot of historical background presented, and quite a few pictures. The Etholén Collection: The ethnographic Alaskan collection of Adolf Etholén and his contemporaries in the National Museum of Finland, by Pirjo Varjola with contributions by Julia P. Averkieva and Roza G. Liapunova. Published by the National Board of Antiquities of Finland. Sorry, there is no ISBN or other publication information for this, but I've seen this book in a lot of museums in the US. A little spendy, but it's a beautifully photographed record of the collection from all tribes in Alaska. The section on the Aleut has some really nice examples of traditional clothing, bentwood and other headgear, basket weaving, and ivory carvings.
7th Infantry Div. & Baptism of Fire available from Traditions Military Videos. An Army Training Tape. Call 1-800-277-1977 or visit their website at Ref. Bob Watson Report from the Aleutians a WWII Documentary directed by John Huston. Film shot mostly on Adak, with a ride-along on Kiska bombing runs. This tape is available from United American Video, P.O.Box 7563, Charlotte, NC 28217. Ref. Bob Watson The Winds of War NBC Dateline, Shane Bishop Producer. A story about two unlikely participants engaged in the Battle for Attu. The Bloody Aleutians The History Channel. A broad treatment of WWII in the Aleutians. Very well done by Mediabridge Entertainment of Canada for the Jones Entertainment Group (The History Channel), produced by Eugene Birman for "The History Channel." (See bottom of page for a special link to The History Channel for this product.) Alaska At War Through rare Japanese and American film footage, you'll see the rugged, inhospitable conditions under which this dramatic campaign was fought and the heroism of U.S. and Japanese soldiers in combat. Winner of the CINE Golden Eagle Award for excellence. Approximately 60 minutes. Click HERE to visit Alaska Video Publishing's online store, where you can also find other videos relating to Alaska. You can also call them at 800- 770-4545 to order videos direct. The Cradle of Storms Tells the story of a beautiful and raw land and its people who have endured and survived wave after wave of invaders and a relentless, unpredictable climate. The Aleutian Islands span the seas between Alaska and Siberia, a desolate necklace of wind-stripped terrain, ravaged by weather that has earned it the name "the cradle of the storms." It is also home to a vast and impressive array of wildlife. The first episode reveals the storm-lashed islands and the 9,000-year-old culture that was forever changed by fur-seeking outsiders, first by Russians then later by Americans. The second episode picks up the story of the native Aleuts as the violence of World War II arrives on their islands. Even in the face of such devastation, the Aleutian people endured and thrive today. Click HERE to go to the linked site.
My thanks to the folks who've contributed these references. If you'd care to get in touch with these fine folks, just click on their names below: John Fahey Bob Watson Rene Thibault Ian Beaton George Smith Wendy Svarny-Hawthorn Russel Marvin
The books presented on this page were originally available from back in the day whey they were primarily a book store, and had not advanced their stock to include everything else! This would have been around November of 2000.
Puchase The History Channel’s “The Bloody Aleutians”
Current Update: 17 Nov 2021 06:41 Last Update: 12 Nov 2014 06:20 Originally Published: 9 Nov 2000