Walter Lippmann's Island

David Mindich's picture

At the very start of his seminal book, _Public Opinion_ (1922), Walter Lippmann writes:  "There is an island in the ocean where in 1914 a few Englishmen, Frenchmen, and Germans lived. No cable reaches that island, and the British mail steamer comes but once in sixty days. In September it had not yet come.... It was, therefore, with more than usual eagerness that the whole colony assembled at the quay on a day in mid-September to hear from the captain.... They learned that for over six weeks now those of them who were English and those of them who were French had been fighting in behalf of the sanctity of treaties against those of them who were Germans. For six strange weeks they had acted as if they were friends, when in fact they were enemies."

Does anyone happen to know the backstory of Lippmann's anecdote, including the island that he references?

I'd appreciate any help you might provide.


David Mindich

Because of the presence of Germans in the anecdote, I am betting that it is about a German-controlled island in the South Pacific. That narrows it down a little but, but at the beginning of World War I, Germany owned the Marshall Islands, Mariana Islands, Caroline Islands, the German part of New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, the Solomon Islands, and the German part of Samoa. Overall, I think the Mariana Islands are as good or better of a bet than the others. Dane