The Hundred Day Winter War
Finland's Gallant Stand against the Soviet Army
Gordon F. Sander
When the Red Army invaded Finland in November 1939 most observers expected a walkover. Instead, in a gallant stand that captured the world's imagination, the tiny Finnish army was able to hold off Stalin's mechanized echelons for 105 days.
Gordon F. Sander peels away the layers of myth surrounding this Nordic Thermopylae to reveal the conflict in its full military, political, and cultural contexts. A bestseller in Finland, the English-language version of Sander's book draws on interviews with both Finnish and Russian veterans of the war, in addition to a bountiful archive of articles from both the Western and Finnish press, to create the most comprehensive and up-to-date single-volume history of the war.
“Sander weaves social, military, diplomatic, and cultural history into The Hundred Day Winter War, giving life to the complex interplay of national and international politics that drove the war.”
“This book focuses on the Winter War between the Soviet Union and neighboring Finland. The Hundred Day Winter War is a military history focusing on the phenomenon called war and its influence on international politics, as well as on the experiences of the people who participated in the war.”
—European History QuarterlySee all reviews...
“Delivers new facts via archival research and interviews with vets.”
—World War II Magazine
“Sander’s discussion of military matters is very good, and his battle pieces are very well done, often gripping, and with more coverage of the Soviet side than is common, including the effect of the war on the Red Army. An excellent look at one of the most unique conflicts in the twentieth century.”
—New York Military Affairs Symposium Review
“An exciting, imaginative, and wide-ranging account of the Winter War. Sander’s gripping study of this short but epic conflict is hard to put down.”
—Evan Mawdsley, general editor of the Cambridge History of the Second World War
“A fascinating, sweeping, and exceptionally well-written history that illumines a number of overlooked dimensions of this still relatively little-known chapter of the Second World War.”
—Bair Irincheev, author of War of the White Death: Finland against the Soviet Union 1939–40
“Sander puts a human face on this controversial struggle between a Finnish David and Soviet ‘Goliath.’ Well written, clear, and poignant, this is social history at its best.”
—David M. Glantz, author of The Stalingrad TrilogySee fewer reviews...
Written in "real time" to give the reader a you-are-there feeling, the book describes the Finns' stunning defeat of the Soviets' initial massive offensive, including the destruction of several Red divisions by Finnish ski troops; the deceptively calm January interregnum, when the two sides engaged in a complicated diplomatic minuet; and the final, titanic Red assault itself, which finally drove the Finns to the peace table-though not before they had forged one of the great legends of modern military history.
Using his intimate knowledge of Finland and Finnish history, the author explains how the Finns' winter skills, their innate sisu, or toughness, and their devotion to both their young republic and their brilliant and inspiring commander-in-chief, Gustaf Mannerheim, together enabled them to make their historic stand.
Sander explores such oft-ignored aspects of the conflict as Finnish press censorship; the abortive Allied "rescue mission" across Scandinavia that was a factor in Stalin's surprising decision to bring the war to a halt; the Kremlin's novel use of paratroopers in the war; and the pivotal role played by the Lotta Svard, the Finnish all-purpose women's auxiliary.
Illustrating Sander's fast-paced text are nearly 50 photographs, including numerous never-seen-before images of both the battlefront and the home front.
Hailed by Helsingin Sanomat, Finland's leading daily, as "a bittersweet morality play" that "opens up this quintessentially Finnish tale to a much wider and admiring readership" and by STT, Finland's leading news agency, as "an outstanding book that combines brilliant writing with a rock-solid factual foundation," Sander's compelling book fills a key gap in the record of the Second World War.