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A Frozen Hell: The Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939-1940 Paperback – January 1, 2000
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- Dennis E. Showalter, Colorado Coll., Colorado Springs
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Trotter has done a great job of recounting the Winter War from both the Finnish and Russian political and military perspecives, using available documents. I am an American-Finn who is very proud of my Finnish heritage, yet I was not insulted by Trotter's treatment of the Russian perspective at all - it was very enlightning. I prefer to understand ALL the "why?"s surrounding an event as momentous as the Winter War. It is nice to have some idea what the Russian reasoning and motives were, even if I don't agree with them. Life is rarely black and white as we would like it to be.
The short biography of Marshall Mannerheim in the beginning was especially useful. Understanding the man sheds light on his actions and opinions. It also explains a bit of the history of Russian-Finnish relations as well.
Improvements: More maps would be very helpful. Also, as a Finnish speaking American I can appreciate Trotter's attempt to make understanding easier for non-finnish speakers, however the occasional reference to places in Finn-glish was a slight annoyance. An example would be "... east of Lake Kuokjärvi" where the word "Lake" is redundant because the name of the place says it is a lake. This is a very picky detail and does not detract from the content.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed reading "A Frozen Hell". The more balanced and objective view taken by Trotter does not take away from the heroics and Sisu of the Finns. I also appreciated inclusion of a more detailed explanation on the surrounding political climate/situations.
The courageous, remarkable defense of their homeland by the Finns in the face of insurmountable odds is no less inspiring or intriguing for its ultimate futility. With an even hand, Trotter guides the reader through the ferocious Finnish winter, and takes us into the minds of both Russian and Finnish soldiers as they fight in some of the most appalling battlefield conditions ever.
In conclusion, my sysmpathy for the Finns is obvious, as is Trotter's, but don't doubt that this is a serious work of history. Trotter deals judiciously with all parties to the conflict based on fact; popular mythology plays no role in this work.
Only a few nitpicks keep this from being a five-star recommendation. It would have been nice if there were more maps--I found myself often looking to the maps for where Trotter was talking about, only to find the places weren't on the maps at all. A map of Finland after the war (and during the Continuation War) would have also been helpful. Also, I felt the Soviet perspective often was neglected in favor of the Finnish one--more accounts of the decisions made by Red Army officers and politicians would have been helpful in understanding some of the battles better. Moreover, I felt that more first-hand accounts would also have helped.
Otherwise, however, this is a fantastic book, and I recommend it to anyone interested in one of the more fascinating campaigns of early-WW2.
Being from Scandinavia myself, I was pleased to see how unbiased this book is. Mr Trotter has great sympathy for the Finnish struggle and the hopeless odds against them, but also shows us the tragical fate of the ordinary Soviet soldier: Cold, exposed, sent out to die for Stalin, which almost 300,000 of them eventually did.
Other readers have already explained the thrilling contents of this book and its eye for detail, so I would like to underline here Mr Trotter's impressive ability to tell even such a dramatic story with a brilliant touch of irony. Just take a look at these two examples:
1. "At 9:20 a.m., November 30, 1939, the first Russian planes appeared over Helsinki.... () .. On their way out, the planes took time to strafe a complex of working-class housing units and to drop their last few high-explosive bombs on the inner city, some of which severely damaged the front of the Soviet Legation building"
2. "To head the new puppet regime, Stalin dragged out O. W. Kuusinen and set him up as "president". Kuusinen was the most influential of all the old-guard Reds who had fled Finland in 1918...().. Broadcasts were soon made in the name of this new government, telling the captive proletariat of "plutocratic Finland" about all the wonderful reforms that would be promulgated after the Red Army had finished liberating them. (Kuusinen) promised the workers an eight-hour day. The workers were not impressed. The eight-hour day had been legislated in Finland twenty five years earlier... Kuusinen had certainly kept up with things".
Admittedly, I, being a non-native English speaker, for obvious reasons will perceive written English in another way than would a native speaker. But I certainly like Mr Trotter's style.
Thanks to the author for a magnificent account of this dramatic piece of Scandinavian history.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I became interested in the Winter War after purchasing an Finnish M39 rifle. The book met my expectations by providing the history I was looking for. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
I love the completeness of the picture presented. Now I understand the meaning of SISU.Published 2 months ago by Axel Larson
The 'Unknown War' could also be this title for the Finns fought this war against the Russian behemoth so far away with so little support from the other democratic countries that... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Tommylaws1
Germany’s invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939 provided convenient cover for the Soviet Union to make two aggressive moves to bolster its own security interests. Read morePublished 3 months ago by DACHokie
Great book, pitiful maps. How can you make so many detailed references to such a multiplicity of place names and not have a map that shows any of them? Read morePublished 5 months ago by Flying Scot
I absolutely love this book. The author has done a great job of adding context to the conflict.Published 6 months ago by Schizoid.
Excellent account of Finland's epic stand against Soviet invasion. There are not a lot of English language accounts of the Winter War, and "Frozen Hell" is one of the best. Read morePublished 7 months ago by The Gyro Captain
Concise and well developed, with just enough "personality" to keep the readers - even those not blessed with Sisu - truly engaged. Mr. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Cal Korpela