The Capture of Attu: A World War II Battle As Told by the Men Who Fought There

by Lt Robert J Mitchell (ed.) | Biographies & Memoirs |
ISBN: 080329557x Global Overview for this book
Registered by Vroomfondel of Leeds, West Yorkshire United Kingdom on 10/23/2005
Buy from one of these Booksellers: | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT |
4 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by Vroomfondel from Leeds, West Yorkshire United Kingdom on Sunday, October 23, 2005 description:
"In 1942 Attu, the westernmost island in the Aleutian chain, was home to two Americans and forty-five Aleut hunters and their families. Located one thousand miles from the Alaska mainland and isolated by year-round damp fogs which manage to survive the constant high winds, Attu was called by an early visitor 'the lonesomest spot this side of hell'.

"In June 1942 Attu and the nearby island of Kiska were invaded by the Japanese in the hopes of accomplishing several goals: forestalling use of the islands by the Americans, hindering U.S.-Soviet cooperation, and establishing bases for attacks on the American mainland. On 11 May 1943, the U.S. effort to retake Attu began. The struggle was essentially an infantry battle. The ever-present fog, rain, and high wind limited the use of air power, and the craggy terrain made mechanized equipment next to useless. The infantry retook the island foot by foot."

I originally bought this book as I'm fascinated with remote locations and was interested to learn that the Japanese actually did set foot in North America during World War II.

The book, original published by the US War Department in 1944, is a collection of tales from the American soldiers, telling the story of how the island of Attu was retaken and what warfare is like in one of the least hospitable places on Earth.

An interesting but heavy-going read.

BookrayThis book is now available as a bookray. PM your location and shipping preferences if you're interested in the book. The bookray begins from the UK and can go internationally if there are participants. Usual rules apply:

• Make a journal entry when you receive the book
• Contact the next reader for their address when you are almost done
• Post a review when you've read the book - please try to send it on within a month of receipt if you can
• Make a journal entry or controlled release notes when you send the book on

1. Megi53 (Virginia USA, will ship anywhere)
2. CatharinaL (Finland, prefer shipping to Finland/EU) <--- bookray closed, thanks for taking part!

Journal Entry 2 by Megi53 from Danville, Virginia USA on Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Arrived today. Only has 139 pages and lots of nice photos, but the writing looks quite detailed and may take me a month to read.

I looked in the comprehensive index for my father's name, since he was stationed in the Aleutians during WWII but he wasn't there -- looks like his unit didn't see combat in this battle (he was an MP).

Thanks for the great postcard of Roald Dahl and his characters -- including my favorite, Pelly! I'm thinking of putting it in a frame and displaying it in the school library where I work.

Journal Entry 3 by Megi53 from Danville, Virginia USA on Friday, December 02, 2005
Just a note to say that I'm almost done -- I am waiting to get a copy of a wishlist book for CatharinaL to stick into the Global Priority envelope with this one-- it's a surprise ;-) -- there's plenty of room and the mailing cost is the same.

The Capture of Attu is very intense, but the editor's pacing is excellent. Just when I was about overcome with misery from reading about, for example, the friendly fire from bomber jets, Mitchell would stick in a cute story like "The Pin-Up" or "The Radio That Turned Jap".

Journal Entry 4 by Megi53 from Danville, Virginia USA on Monday, December 05, 2005
I could make a whole journal entry from great quotes:

"...these are not the stories of heroes; these are just the stories of guys who win wars and carry the scars on their hands." (page 129)

"Most soldiers who have really been in the thick of battle are reticent about the details. Maybe they can't believe the things they remember themselves, after the memories have grown cold." (page 134)

I'm full of contradictions, because I'm totally anti-war. Any war -- even the American Revolution and World War II could have been avoided with patience and diplomacy. BUT I am fascinated with military history. My dad was in the Army in WWII (in the Aleutians, as I mentioned before) and my stepfather in Korea with the Marines. Just like in the second quote above, they never wanted to talk about their experiences, so I stay interested in reading battle accounts.

This book was more immediate than any I've read before; I suppose because Mitchell interviewed the men so close to the time of the fighting. (As an aside, I think he was right to be angry about the circumstances of his wounding! Reading The Capture of Attu certainly shows that mistakes and bad attitudes are nothing new in wartime.)

The references to food were striking -- I felt terrible for the Americans when their coffee bucket was shot up; and for the Japanese POW when a GI threw his fish back into the sea!

Thanks, gothmarcus, for a wonderful reading opportunity.

For future readers, here's a site that helped me with the terminology, like "OP" and "CP":

And on the map between pages 7 and 8, two important features, Clevesy Pass and Fish Hook Ridge, are barely visible in the "seam" in the middle.

Mailing to Finland this afternoon.

Journal Entry 5 by CatharinaL from Pirkkala, Pirkanmaa / Birkaland Finland on Tuesday, December 13, 2005
The Capture of Attu arrived in the mail this morning--thanks!

Journal Entry 6 by CatharinaL from Pirkkala, Pirkanmaa / Birkaland Finland on Wednesday, December 28, 2005
I finished reading this over Christmas, and can't help but repeat all the things Megi said above. Very well written, informative, and maximally 'entertaining' to read, this was a comprehensive account of what happened on Attu--from the US viewpoint, that is. Compiling a book based on the personal stories of the men obviously proved the perfect choice! I've never read a non-fiction military account quite as captivating as this.

I joined this ring for two purposes. First, because I like reading accounts of military operations (even though, like Megi, I'm completely anti-war in practice). Second, I'm a huge fan of crossword puzzles, and couldn't resist such a familiar word as ATTU--one of those 'empty' words/names one knows next to nothing about, besides the definition 'an Aleutian island'. ATTU is a perennial in Finnish crossword puzzles, and up until now, I haven't had a clear idea of why ATTU, ATKA, KISKA, and ADAK should even appear in crosswords. Obviously, these words first entered crossword puzzles during WWII when the Aleutian Islands made newspaper headlines. The once 'established' words have remained in crossword puzzles and glossaries ever since. Reading The Capture of Attu provided me with so much new information and insight I'm sure to remember every time I come across with ATTU in a crossword puzzle!

Here are some Attu-related websites I found while searching for information on the present-day Attu:


[08/03/06] The bookray is now officially closed. I'm taking the book with me to the Tampere March meetup.

Journal Entry 7 by wingmynttiwing from Tampere, Pirkanmaa / Birkaland Finland on Saturday, March 11, 2006
Oops, I forgot to make a journal entry. I got the book at our BC meet-up on Wednesday.

Reserved for MsDefessa.

Journal Entry 8 by wingmynttiwing from Tampere, Pirkanmaa / Birkaland Finland on Monday, April 23, 2007
I mailed the book to MsDefessa today.

Are you sure you want to delete this item? It cannot be undone.