am 26. Juni 2000
I found the topic of the Russo-Finnish war so intriguing that I bought this book as well as the one by William Trotter (the only ones I could find). This book ("The Winter War") was a true pleasure to read, and exceeded my expectations. I was a little nervous when I bought it, given some of the poor reviews given by a few of the previous readers. My only guess is that they were thinking of a different book, or found the reality of the Soviet Union as an aggressor inconsistent with their worldviews. I should have been tipped off when the one reviewer questioned why the Finns didn't give Stalin what he was asking for! I read the entire book in a single day, and can tell you that it is an extremely exciting story. The book mixes actual accounts from those involved throughout the history, which makes it read like a novel. As far as the one reviewer's comments about the editor not having a good command of the English language, I honestly did not find any such problem. I was an English minor in college, and tend to be fairly sensitive to such problems. Rereading the review in question, I suspect that his real issue was with the portrayal of the Soviet Union as the aggressor.
As far as the other book ("A Frozen Hell"), I sent it back for a refund. That book actually portrays Stalin as the victim!
am 9. April 2000
This book was not meant to be a political study, but rather a research effort to record the heroic deeds and events that happened in the War with the Sovit Union before they were lost to history. The authors do give some background into the war and some insight into the Soviet reasoning. This, however, is not the main thrust of the book. The individual stories make this an exciting book to read. The tremendous hardships endured are scarcely even imagined today much less experienced. I recommend this book to everyone who has an interest in Finland and World War Two.
am 4. Januar 2000
This book will interest anyone who enjoys tales of valiant underdogs who struggle mightily against overwhelming odds. The Finns were heavily outnumbered, both in fighting men and in modern weapons, but they made the Russian bear pay heavily for his assault on their territory. As the authors point out, the Finns best ally was their heavily forested land, cut up by numerous streams, lakes and swamps, which forced the invaders to concentrate on the few existing roads. The defenders were largely woodsmen and farmers who were at home in this environment, in contrast to the Russian invaders. Where they had room to maneuver, which was everywhere but on the Karelian front, the tough Finns skied around the Russian columns, cut them into smaller pieces, and killed or captured large numbers of men and mountains of equipment. The story is told from the Finnish point of view and the authors do a poor job of addressing the question that most interests the modern reader: Should the Finns have given in to Stalin's demands instead of fighting? After all, Stalin had legitimate security concerns, as Hitler's invasion later proved, and his demands were more moderate than they might have been. Through negotiation, could they have avoided losing 10% of their territory and still have maintained their independence? Or would Finland have gone the way of Estonia and its Baltic neighbors? The bear can kill the weaker porcupine whenever he chooses. The porcupine's only defense is to convince the bear that the attack will cause him so much pain that the meal will not be worth the price. In the heroic defense of their homeland, the Finnish soldiers convinced the Russian bear that Finland was a tough and painful morsel that should be avoided. The defenders paid a heavy price in teaching this lesson, but I suspect that Finns today would tell us that their independence was worth the price paid.
am 24. November 1998
This book distinguishes itself only in the poverty of the writing. It fails miserably to convey the feeling of what it must have been like to fight in that war. The heroism of the Finns is diminished because of the heavy bias shown towards them, whilst the plight of an estimated 1 million dead Russian soldiers is only given fleeting coverage. The political situation in Europe is barely acknowledged save for the last chapter. The narrative is at its most exciting when it consists of list of equipment. Presumably whoever was charged with proof reading it before it was published had only a superficial knowledge of English. A very disappointing attempt to cover a war that could potentially have changed the course Second World War and therefore the latter half of this century.