Book Review–Ghosts in the Fog: The Untold Story of Alaska’s WWII Invasion

Ghosts in the Fog: The Untold Story of Alaska’s WWII Invasion ©2011 is the narrative nonfiction account of Japan’s invasion of the Aleutian Islands during World War II. Classified military information for years and too difficult for those who lived it to discuss, Samantha Seiple’s pen brings it all to light: the invasion and occupation of the Aleutian Islands, the captivity of civilians and military personnel, battles on these islands, and the relocation of the native Aleuts.

Seiple uses survivors’ personal stories and incidents and meticulous research to move this historical account of battle strategy, challenges, and survival. Appropriate for middle school age and older, readers will find this book to be good, interesting practice in reading nonfiction while older students can read this book to extend their study and knowledge of World War II.

During WWII, Alaska was a United States territory, becoming the 49th state in early 1959. Review of a map of Alaska shows the Aleutian Islands’ proximity to Japan and Russia, pointing out the necessity of U.S. military presence there and elsewhere in Alaska.

Seiple’s detailed index and source notes are excellent examples for students writing research papers; images in the book come from museum and military archives. Seiple explains military terminology within the text as well as the responsibilities and relevance of the various military personnel to increase the reader’s understanding of the situation. Codecracking was instrumental to military operations. Weather bore a huge effect on living, surviving, and fighting on these islands, creating a jumping off point for study of the Aleutian Low, a semi-permanent low pressure system over the Aleutian Islands. Weather caused military pilots to create innovations in order to strike at the enemy.

To follow the progress of the battles and other incidents, create a flow map and character mapping will describe the various people in the story, tracking them throughout the book.

The closing chapter, “The Afterword: The Remembered”, brings closure to this part of WWII history, a chapter begun on June 7, 1942, but denied for decades.

Note: This book is on the middle school reading competition list created by the North Carolina School Library Media Association Middle School Battle of the Books List 2013-14.