The Winter War, Eloise Engle and Lauri Paananen

The Winter War, Eloise Engle and Lauri Paananen

This is a classic account of the Winter War, the conflict between Finland and the Soviet Union that helped convince the Germans that the Red Army would be an easy opponent. Instead of the easy victory that Stalin had expected, it took the Red Army over 100 days to force the Finns to make peace, and even then the Soviet Union was forced to offer comparatively generous terms (in that Finland survived as an independent state).

The book is written almost entirely from the Finnish point of view, perhaps inevitably given that it was written in the 1970s at a time when Soviet archives were closed and Soviet accounts of the war of dubious accuracy. Eyewitness accounts are almost entire Finnish, as is the narrative.

The book could do with more maps - there is one good overview map of Finland, and some useful maps showing key battles, but I'd have also liked to see a map showing the areas claimed by the Soviets before the war and the areas actually taken at the end of the conflict. There is a good section of pictures, and some contemporary Finnish cartoons that give some idea of the mood in the country during the war.

This is an excellent account of this war, albeit largely written from one point of view (rather than bias), and the focus on the Finnish experience also means that we get a good idea of the impact of the war on the country. 

1 - 'It is not possible for you [in Finland] to remain neutral'
2 - November 30, 1939: 'Our borders are burning'
3 - Helsinki Aflame
4 - Marshal Mannerheim and the 'Blitz' at the Karelian Isthmus
5 - Russian Panzers - and the State Liquor Board - Go to War
6 - The Frozen Hell of Talvisota
7 - Russian Bombs - and the Big Sympathy War Rages Abroad
8 - The Air War
9 - The First Major Russian Offensive in Karelia: On-the-Job Training for the Red Army
10 - The Karelia Defenders Counterattack
11 - In the Northern Wilderness
12 - Inside the Pincer Claws
13 - The Motti Battles
14 - Timoshenko's Offensive
15 - The Terrible Decision
16 - The Miracle of Kollaa
17 - Finland in Mourning
Epilogue: Snow Covers the Tracks
A - Assistance from Winter War Participants
B - Help from Abroad
C - Comparative Strength and Structure of the Finnish and Russian Division
D - Location of Russian and Finnish Divisions
E - Understanding Place Names in Finland

Author: Eloise Engle and Lauri Paananen
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 336
Publisher: Stackpole Books
Year: 2014 edition of 1973 original

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