Monday, October 24, 2011

Ghosts in the Fog

Ghosts in the Fog: The Untold Story of Alaska's WWII Invasion Samantha Seiple

How’s this for an opening?

On June 7, 1942, Japan invaded Alaska.

On June 10, 1942, the U.S. Navy denied that it happened: “None of our inhabited islands or rocks are troubled with uninvited visitors up to this time.”

This is a terrifying story on several levels.

The Japanese invaded small villages in the Western Aleutian islands. They invaded military installations. The Pacific fleet had taken a huge hit 6 months early in Pearl Harbor and most of what was left was finishing up the epic battle at Midway. The small part of the navy that was supposed to protect the giant Alaska was 1000 miles away, ignoring the intelligence and thinking the Japanese would attack further east.

Throughout the Aleutians is the oppressive fog that kept the Americans from being able to see their enemy.

The battles were bloody, hand-to-hand combat and absolutely horrific for both sides.

At the same time an entire village of Aleuts had been taken back to Japan as POWs where they were starved and beaten. The ones that had been evacuated by the navy (and only the Aleuts were mandatory evacuated. White people could stay.) had it just has bad. Overcrowded conditions with no running water or electricity. Disease swept through the evacuation camps with no medical care or supplies. Able-bodied men were put to (largely unpaid) work and taken away from their dying families.

Seiple tells this tale with tension and suspense, while still making it age-appropriate for middle school. Lots of pictures illustrate the text.

I wanted a little more about the civilian issues and a more detailed map, but overall this is a gripping book. The history is unknown, and the writing style keeps the pages turning. Highly recommended.

Today's Nonfiction Monday roundup is over at Apples with Many Seeds.

Book Provided by... my local library

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Myra Garces-Bacsal from GatheringBooks said...

Hi Jennie, I always enjoy visiting your blog and reading your thoughts about books. Would put this on my to-read list. Thanks for sharing.

Have fun with Cybils! You must have borrowed a ton of books from your library - and you do have your reading cut out for you in the next few weeks. Enjoy.

Susan T. said...

I just added this to my list, too. Thanks for reviewing it; it sounds fascinating.