The Winter War: Russia’s Invasion of Finland, 1939–1940

Robert Edwards, Author
Robert Edwards, Author . Pegasus $26.95 (319p) ISBN 978-1-933648-50-7
Reviewed on: 04/21/2008
Release date: 07/01/2008

The November 1939 Soviet invasion of Finland provoked worldwide outrage. Astonished at the Finns’ fierce resistance, observers made comparisons with the valiant Greek defense of Thermopylae. In his first book, journalist Edwards delivers a lively, opinionated account of this half-forgotten but major war. After swallowing up nearby Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, Russia required Finland to cede territory near Leningrad and in the far north and to grant several bases. The Finnish government balked. Thereupon massive Soviet forces, dreadfully led, poorly trained and scandalously ill equipped for the Arctic winter, stumbled forward into a massacre. Despite lack of heavy weapons, the Finns were brilliantly led by Baron Carl Mannerheim, who had also commanded during Finland’s independence battle against the Bolsheviks in 1918. Moving on skis, they took advantage of the long northern night to attack, spreading panic. But after 105 days and immense casualties, the Soviets forced the overstretched Finns to yield and surrender 10% of their territory. Governments joined their citizens in cheering the Finns, but did little else. Edwards recounts events, both shameful and heroic, with insight, conviction and considerable wit. (June 5)

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