“Finland, superb, nay sublime in the jaws of peril,” an awestruck Winston Churchill declared over BBC in January, 1940, in the midst of the so-called Winter War, “Finland shows what free men can do!” To be sure, if World War II has a “forgotten campaign,” it is the epic, improbable war-within-a-war that pitted tiny Finland against the might of the Soviet Union between November, 1939 and March, 1940.
When, on November 30, 1939, the USSR invaded Finland at nine points with a half million men and two thousand planes, virtually everyone, including both Allied and Axis observers, as well as the complacent Soviet themselves, expected a quick walkover. The Reds’ deadline for conquering Finland was December 21, 1939, Joseph Stalin’s sixtieth birthday, when Instead, in a gallant stand that captured the world’s imagination, the miniscule Finnish army and air force were able to hold off and Stalin’s mechanized echelons for 105 incredible days. Ultimately, after a second even more massive Red assault in February, the exhausted, grossly outnumbered Finns, assisted by over 12,000 volunteers from around the world—including 350 Finnish-Americans, were forced to capitulate, but not before logging one of the great last stands in the annals of warfare, to rank alongside Thermopylae, Bastogne and the Alamo.
I am very pleased to announce that the U.S. edition of The Battle of Finland, my comprehensive, “real-time” history of the Talvisota, as the Finns call it, which I first wrote for WSOY, the great Finnish publisher, for the 70th anniversary of Finland’s finest hour, in 2010, will be published by the country’s foremost publisher of military history, the University Press of Kansas, this July. With a new title, The Hundred Day Winter War, a fantastic new complement of photos I personally selected from the Finnish Army Archives, a new set of maps, the Kansas version, which my staff at Cornell and I have been toiling over for a good part of the last three years, the new edition is virtually a new package. I would like to think that with its publication, The Hundred Day Winter War–which pays special attention to the enormous coverage the war received in the US and UK press, including stints by the pioneering American female war correspondents and fellow glamour gals Martha Gellhorn and Virginia Cowles (see attached image of Martha’s front line visit with the gallant men of Finnish Air squadron 24, who sang her a love song!)–will rekindle the fascination with the conflict generated three quarters of a century ago, when American newspaper readers were spellbound by the latest feats of the fleet-footed Finnish ski soldiers, also known as “the white death!”
See the author interviewed about the original Finnish edition of the book by fellow Fennophile Cody Oreck,the brilliant (and gorgeous!) wife of United States Ambassador to Helsinki, the Rt. Hon. Bruce Oreck on the occasion of a gala presentation of the book at the Hotel Kamp December, 2010.
Order your copy here!