by Gordon F. Sander
University Press of Kansas, 2013. Pp. xii, 390.
Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $39.95. ISBN: 0700619100
Fresh Light on Finland's Heroic Stand.
Although quite a number of books have examined Finland’s heroic, if doomed, resistance to Stalin’s aggression, journalist and historian Sander manages to throw a great deal of new light on the 105 day conflict, a work that was a best-seller in Finland.
Sander covers much more of the civilian side of the war than is common. He also tries to give the reader the feel of events as they unfolded, rather than taking a longer-term rearward view. Sander reveals some of the warts on the Finnish side, including an overly rigid press censorship that contributed to false hopes of victory, gives us some detail on foreign aid to the Finns, including foreign military and medical volunteers, and even some help from Mussolini!, and goes into some depth on the complexities of the proposed Anglo-French relief expedition. Sander explores the reasons for Stalin’s decision to end the war at a time when arguably he might have overrun all of Finland. There are also some good profiles of many participants, notably Marshal Mannerheim and Stalin himself, a man who seems to have had a gruding respect for the Finns. Sander’s discussion of military matters is very good, and his battle pieces are very well done, often gripping, and illustrated with some excellent maps. Sanders also gives the reader more coverage of the Soviet side than is common, including the effect of the war on the Red Army.
A volume in the UPK series “Modern War Studies,” The Hundred Day Winter War gives the reader excellent look at one of the most unique conflicts in the twentieth century.