Book Review: Outpost In The North Atlantic: Marines In The Defense Of Iceland

Outpost In The North Atlantic: Marines In The Defense Of Iceland, by James A. Donovan

This book is essentially the other side of the story to a post I wrote earlier about the long-term sense of embarrassment that Iceland suffered over its World War II occupation by American and British forces [1]. Admittedly, this book is written in favor of American and British involvement in Iceland, despite the fact that the author notes that Germany never even tried to take over the island given the weakness of their fleet as well as their overextension in North Africa and Russia at the time when American and British forces occupied Iceland as a foreword defense. It should be noted that the United States Marines of the early part of World War II were not defending Iceland for the native Icelanders, but rather for the interests of the United States and the United Kingdom. Although the author praises this involvement, he does concede that the people of Iceland themselves viewed this occupation as a necessary evil, or at least that is how he puts it, and he does not talk about the relationship between the local people and occupying forces, rather focusing his attention on the struggles of Marines to stave off boredom.

It should be noted that this is a book that focuses on the Marines in Iceland, and attempts to find some sort of justification for their presence and notes some of the key aspects of their time there. This book spends a bit of time talking about the harmonious relationship that British and American forces has as well as the way that the Marines resented the poor meals that the Army’s forces had to endure. There is also considerable discussion, given the short length of this work at less than 50 pages, in the question of whether the Marines would have been better served elsewhere given that their presence in Iceland prevented their training for some time in California for the later Marine efforts at islandhopping in the Pacific front of the war. And the author’s interest in World War II Iceland stops once the marines sailed away in the winter to return to the states to leave occupation to the Army. This is a narrowly focused work that focuses on the internal history of the Marines, not so much the relationship between war and society in World War II Iceland. Admittedly, that would be a subject I would like to read about, though one hardly knows what sort of sources would deal with such a delicate subject that would be accessible to a reader such as myself.


About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, History, Military History and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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