In November 1939, Stalin directed his military leaders to launch an invasion of Finland. In what became known as the Winter War, the full might of the Soviet army was pitted against this small Nordic republic. Yet despite their vastly superior military strength, the Soviets suffered heavy losses and failed to mount Stalin’s intended full-scale invasion.
How did Finland evade Stalin’s crosshairs—not once, but three times more?
In this groundbreaking account, Kimmo Rentola traces the epochal shifts in Soviet-Finnish relations. From the Winter War to Finland’s exit from World War II in 1944, a possible Soviet-backed coup in 1948, and Moscow’s designation of Finland as an enemy state in 1950, Finland was forced to navigate Stalin’s outsize political and territorial demands. Rentola presents a dramatic reconstruction of Finland’s unlikely survival at a time when the nation’s very existence was at stake.
“This is a pioneering work on Soviet-Finnish relations in the critical period between the Winter War and the death of Stalin. Using archives around the world, Rentola explores in stunning detail the complex story of Finnish survival.”—Norman M. Naimark, author of Stalin and the Fate of Europe
“There is no other book like this one. Rentola treats Stalin as a serious strategist and demonstrates how pragmatic, flexible and ruthless he could be.”—Ronald Grigor Suny, author of Stalin: Passage to Revolution
“No one is better equipped than Kimmo Rentola to tell the extraordinary story of Finland’s relations with Stalin and the Soviets. His penetrating insight, flawless judgement and matchless command of Finnish and Russian sources have produced a masterpiece.”—Geoffrey Roberts, author of Stalin’s Library
“A masterfully-written and elegant work. Rentola’s precise and compact narration deepens and widens the understanding of Finland’s fateful years.”—Lauri Jäntti Prize Jury