Seven years after its publication in Finland, where it was the second best selling non-fiction book for six months, four years after it was published in the U.S., The Battle of Finland (or the Hundred Day Winter War, as it was called here) continues to throw off sparks of different sorts, including fine reviews to add to the myriad kudos it has already received.
One of the most recent was from European History Quarterly. Excerpt: “Gordon Sander took the story of the Winter War, which had an enthusiastic reception in Finland…and transformed it into an insightful, well-written book which is easy to recommend to anyone interested in World War II.” And so on.
Just as gratifying are the emails I continue to receive from Winter War aficionados around the world—like the one I received on April 10 from Ilkka K. (let’s call him), a psychiatrist from Rovaniemi, the capital of Finland Lappland, and the setting for some of the most heart-pounding moments from the book.
“I have read a lot of books which described the movement of troops etc.,” my newest Finnish fan wrote, “but yours was the first which integrated the different [military and social perspectives] in a readable and enjoyable way.” Ilkka went on to tell me that both of his grandfathers fought in the Winter War, as well as the 1941-44 so-called Continuation War (which is actually fairly common in Finland). “I loved your book!”
That certainly made my day.
Then there was the mail I received last November from Jackie K., who works for the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Denver, and is a mother to boot (!), whose son Michael, had ‘discovered’ the Winter War, and my book (apparently in that order). Moreover, Jackie went on to tell me, Michael, who apparently had been a lackluster student until then, had been inspired to enter the National History Day writing contest. And could I possibly suggest any other books about the subject?
Of course, I replied, providing same, along with some suggested tips.
Then last month I opened my computer and saw a mail from Jackie informing me that Michael had won the state semi-final for the contest, along with the attached photos (inset), including one of Michael with his hard-earned historiographical “battle decoration” as proof.
Not only that—Michael it seems is now interested in becoming an historian himself. And could I possibly recommend any colleges for him?
Do you remember the World War II Frank Capra motivational documentary series “Why We Fight?”
Well, you might say, this is why I WRITE!