Holtz Bay, Attu Island, Alaska. One of the places captured and occupied by Japanese during WWII. Note the crashed Zero on the beach. {credit below}

At work Friday, Brian gave me his perspective on the book I’m writing. He apparently represents the Intelligent & Interested Young Men segment of the future potential population that could read my book when I’ve finished. The IIYM insists on knowing details about stuff that’s only fuzzy in my mind. I had convinced myself that I didn’t need to know any more about Reagan’s Star Wars than I already knew. My book is not about that!

I said as much to Brian, too. “My book is not about that.”

Let the history buffs worry about World War II in the northern Pacific and the end of the Cold War. I want to write about the fascinating sociological and anthropological details of a small group of people stranded together on an arctic island with no means of leaving and very little communication with the outside world. The fact that we were a Top Secret Air Force base supporting a critical mission in military defense of the country was interesting, of course, but that stuff pales compared to my memories of the drama unfolding amongst us there all jammed together on that nasty cold, wet rock in Alaska.

Brian persisted with an email sent about twenty minutes after we returned from our walk for coffee. The subject line: doctrine of mutual assured destruction. In the body:

What I was trying to say earlier was that Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative represented a challenge of the doctrine of “Mutually Assured Destruction” which postulates that use of nuclear weapons in full scale war would result in the destruction of both the attacker and the defender, thus becoming a war that has no victory nor any armistice but only total destruction.

Oh, come on, really?!

I haven’t been talking to many people about my book till recently, because it wasn’t until now that it seems like a tale is finally unfolding, 60,000 words into it. I’m tentatively putting it out there as the topic comes up in my daily life, because I want to get a feel for people’s reactions. Brian is the first person in a long time to immediately take in the information and begin pressing with questions. It just figures that all his questions are in an area that I have been glossing over: what was I doing out there on that godforsaken rock in the Bering Sea in the first place?

This morning I couldn’t avoid the reality any longer: I concluded that I must do some research. It’s not that I have to write about Reagan, Gorbachev, Yamamoto and Nimitz per se… but to put my year on the island during 1990 and 1991 into context; I am going to have to know the history behind the island and the mission I supported. I hollered to my kid that we were heading into town to the central library. She, to grab some new copies of Bleach and Deathnote; me to get a stack of war books. A stack of war books I now have to read. Stupid Brian.

{image taken from The US Army Campaigns of World War II: The Aleutian Islands. Published 1992 by the U.S. Government Printing Office}