This book examines the contribution of the military to the exploration, settlement, development, and defense of Alaska. The work covers the period of time from its purchase from Russia in 1867 to the present. During that time Alaska emerged from an obscure colonial dependency to a resource-rich state. This same period confirmed its strategic significance in hemispheric and continental defense, first during the second world war, when Japanese forces occupied the Aleutian Islands, and then during the cold war confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union.
While in some ways analagous to the western experience generally, the duties of the military on the Alaska frontier were unique. Geography, climate, and unprecendented responsibilities of governance and law enforcement imposed many new challenges. In recent years Alaska and the Arctic have acquired military significance for both the United States and Russia. This fascinating study is in inquiry into the historical evidence and the major themes, events, and personalities that have shaped the development of our forty-ninth state. It offers original research in archival and manuscript sources, and provides a useful synthesis of the published documentary record, and brings together in a comprehensive bibliography resources that are available for those who wish to pursue specific areas of interest. The broad scope, both interpretive and narrative, of this important work will make it an indispensable aid to students and scholars of the western historical experience, American military history, and world history.