The best books on the Winter War

1 authors have picked their favorite books about the Winter War and why they recommend each book.

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Finland at War

By Vesa Nenye, Peter Munter, Toni Wirtanen

Book cover of Finland at War: The Winter War 1939-40

The story of the Winter War between Finland and Soviet Russia is a dramatic David versus Goliath encounter. When close to half a million Soviet troops poured into Finland in 1939, Stalin expected Finnish defenses to collapse or surrender. But they held firm. The Finns not only survived the initial attacks but succeeded in inflicting devastating casualties before superior Russian numbers eventually forced a peace settlement. This is a detailed and compelling guide to Finland's vital, but almost forgotten role in World War II. It reveals the untold story of determination and mastery of winter warfare that characterized Finland's fight for survival on the Easternn Front.

Finland at War

By Vesa Nenye, Peter Munter, Toni Wirtanen

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Finland at War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The story of the 'Winter War' between Finland and Soviet Russia is a dramatic David versus Goliath encounter. When close to half a million Soviet troops poured into Finland in 1939 it was expected that Finnish defences would collapse in a matter of weeks. But they held firm. The Finns not only survived the initial attacks but succeeded in inflicting devastating casualties before superior Russian numbers eventually forced a peace settlement. This is a rigorously detailed and utterly compelling guide to Finland's vital, but almost forgotten role in the cataclysmic World War II. It reveals the untold story of iron…

Who am I?

As the author of four novels based on Finnish culture and history, I admire and respect the Finns for many qualities, including their intelligence, their strength and endurance, and their understated sense of humor. But the quality that impresses me most is what the Finns call sisu, which roughly translates to an ability to show stoic courage and tenacity in the face of adversity. The Finnish resistance to Stalin during the 105 days of the Winter War was a classic demonstration of that national trait. While researching this book, I had the privilege of interviewing five Finnish veterans, all of whom exemplified sisu while serving during the Winter War.


I wrote...

The Winter War: A Novel

By William Durbin,

Book cover of The Winter War: A Novel

What is my book about?

When the Soviet Union invades its tiny neighbor Finland in November 1939, Marko volunteers for the army. Even though his leg was weakened by polio, he can ski well, and he becomes a messenger on the front lines, skiing in white camouflage through forests at night in temperatures that drop to -40 and -50. The odds are against the Finns: The Russians have four times as many soldiers and one hundred times as many tanks. But the Russians don’t know winter the way the Finns do, or what tough guerrilla warriors the Finns are. To this day, Finland’s brilliant defensive strategy is studied in every military academy in the world.

A Frozen Hell

By William Trotter,

Book cover of A Frozen Hell: The Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939-1940

When Russia invaded in November of 1939, Stalin predicted the war would last a week or perhaps ten days. However, the genius of Field Marshal Mannerheim and the courage of the Finnish soldiers, allowed them to resist for 105 days through one of the coldest winters in Finnish history. Soldiers used cross-country skis to move quickly. And they often employed “motti” tactics, cutting the Russian columns into smaller units that they could isolate and attack. Also, having few anti-tank guns, they used Molotov cocktails with deadly effect on Russian tanks. These clever battle strategies, combined with the incredible endurance of the Finnish soldiers, make for a heroic tale.

A Frozen Hell

By William Trotter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Frozen Hell as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Masterfully recreates all the heroism, tragedy and drama of a campaign whose lessons deserve far more attention." —General James R. Galvin, former Supreme Allied Commander, Europe

In 1939, tiny Finland waged war-the kind of war that spawns legends-against the mighty Soviet Union, and yet their epic struggle has been largely ignored. Guerrillas on skis, heroic single-handed attacks on tanks, unfathomable endurance, and the charismatic leadership of one of this century's true military geniuses-these are the elements of both the Finnish victory and a gripping tale of war.

Who am I?

As the author of four novels based on Finnish culture and history, I admire and respect the Finns for many qualities, including their intelligence, their strength and endurance, and their understated sense of humor. But the quality that impresses me most is what the Finns call sisu, which roughly translates to an ability to show stoic courage and tenacity in the face of adversity. The Finnish resistance to Stalin during the 105 days of the Winter War was a classic demonstration of that national trait. While researching this book, I had the privilege of interviewing five Finnish veterans, all of whom exemplified sisu while serving during the Winter War.


I wrote...

The Winter War: A Novel

By William Durbin,

Book cover of The Winter War: A Novel

What is my book about?

When the Soviet Union invades its tiny neighbor Finland in November 1939, Marko volunteers for the army. Even though his leg was weakened by polio, he can ski well, and he becomes a messenger on the front lines, skiing in white camouflage through forests at night in temperatures that drop to -40 and -50. The odds are against the Finns: The Russians have four times as many soldiers and one hundred times as many tanks. But the Russians don’t know winter the way the Finns do, or what tough guerrilla warriors the Finns are. To this day, Finland’s brilliant defensive strategy is studied in every military academy in the world.

The Winter War

By Eloise Engle, Lauri Paananen,

Book cover of The Winter War: The Soviet Attack on Finland, 1939-1940

The Soviet invasion of Finland remains one of the lesser-known but critically important events in the lead up to World War II. This book, co-authored by two Finns who have an intimate knowledge of both the Finnish people and the war, recounts all of the major battles in vivid detail. And it shows, how against all odds, the skills and the fortitude of the Finns allowed them to resist the Russian advances through an incredibly cold winter. While Russia lost close to 500,000 soldiers (Nikita Khrushchev, former Premier of the USSR, claims it was a million) there were only 25,000 casualties on the Finnish side.

The Winter War

By Eloise Engle, Lauri Paananen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Winter War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book is a brief but very interesting illustration of the Winter War between Russia and Finland. The heroic stand of the Finns against the Russian juggernaut provided a timely moral and psychological lift to those in the West willing to defend freedom.

Who am I?

As the author of four novels based on Finnish culture and history, I admire and respect the Finns for many qualities, including their intelligence, their strength and endurance, and their understated sense of humor. But the quality that impresses me most is what the Finns call sisu, which roughly translates to an ability to show stoic courage and tenacity in the face of adversity. The Finnish resistance to Stalin during the 105 days of the Winter War was a classic demonstration of that national trait. While researching this book, I had the privilege of interviewing five Finnish veterans, all of whom exemplified sisu while serving during the Winter War.


I wrote...

The Winter War: A Novel

By William Durbin,

Book cover of The Winter War: A Novel

What is my book about?

When the Soviet Union invades its tiny neighbor Finland in November 1939, Marko volunteers for the army. Even though his leg was weakened by polio, he can ski well, and he becomes a messenger on the front lines, skiing in white camouflage through forests at night in temperatures that drop to -40 and -50. The odds are against the Finns: The Russians have four times as many soldiers and one hundred times as many tanks. But the Russians don’t know winter the way the Finns do, or what tough guerrilla warriors the Finns are. To this day, Finland’s brilliant defensive strategy is studied in every military academy in the world.

The White Sniper

By Tapio Saarelainen,

Book cover of The White Sniper: Simo Häyhä

Simo Häyhä (1905 – 2002), an unassuming and quiet man, is the most famous sniper in the history of warfare. During the Winter War he achieved a remarkable 542 confirmed kills while using his own rifle, a m/28-30 with iron sights and no scope. His record still stands today, and he has become a role model for snipers all over the world, both in terms of the techniques he employed and by demonstrating the significance that a lone sniper can have on the battlefield.

The White Sniper

By Tapio Saarelainen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The White Sniper as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Simo Hayha (1905 - 2002) is the most famous sniper in the world. During the Winter War fought between Russia and Finland in 1939 - 1940 he had 542 confirmed kills with iron sights, a record that still stands today. He has been a role model for snipers all over the world and paved the way for them by demonstrating their significance on the battlefield.

Simo Hayha was a man of action who spoke very little, but he was hugely respected by his men and his superiors and given many difficult missions, including taking out specific targets. Able to move…

Who am I?

As the author of four novels based on Finnish culture and history, I admire and respect the Finns for many qualities, including their intelligence, their strength and endurance, and their understated sense of humor. But the quality that impresses me most is what the Finns call sisu, which roughly translates to an ability to show stoic courage and tenacity in the face of adversity. The Finnish resistance to Stalin during the 105 days of the Winter War was a classic demonstration of that national trait. While researching this book, I had the privilege of interviewing five Finnish veterans, all of whom exemplified sisu while serving during the Winter War.


I wrote...

The Winter War: A Novel

By William Durbin,

Book cover of The Winter War: A Novel

What is my book about?

When the Soviet Union invades its tiny neighbor Finland in November 1939, Marko volunteers for the army. Even though his leg was weakened by polio, he can ski well, and he becomes a messenger on the front lines, skiing in white camouflage through forests at night in temperatures that drop to -40 and -50. The odds are against the Finns: The Russians have four times as many soldiers and one hundred times as many tanks. But the Russians don’t know winter the way the Finns do, or what tough guerrilla warriors the Finns are. To this day, Finland’s brilliant defensive strategy is studied in every military academy in the world.

The Finnish-Soviet Winter War 1939-40

By David P. Murphy, Johnny Shumate (illustrator),

Book cover of The Finnish-Soviet Winter War 1939-40: Stalin's Hollow Victory

This definitive study explores the Soviet invasion of Finland and details the major events of the Winter War of November 1939 to March 1940. The Russian attack, which was expected to be swift and decisive, was blunted by the extraordinary fighting qualities of the Finnish Army and high number of casualties they inflicted on the Russians. The challenges caused by the weather, the wilderness terrain, the Mannerheim Line defenses, and the superbly executed Finnish military tactics resulted in a fascinating David vs Goliath struggle.

The Finnish-Soviet Winter War 1939-40

By David P. Murphy, Johnny Shumate (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Finnish-Soviet Winter War 1939-40 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This informative study explores the Soviet invasion of Finland, detailing the events of the Winter War of November 1939 to March 1940. The invasion was expected to be swift and decisive, however, the fighting qualities of the Finnish Army blunted the Soviet advance and inflicted high numbers of casualties. A combination of difficulties caused by the weather, the terrain, the Mannerheim Line defences and Finnish tactics resulted in a fascinating David vs Goliath type struggle.

On 23 August 1939, a secret protocol was appended to the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact; as part of this, Finland was assigned to the Soviet sphere…

Who am I?

As the author of four novels based on Finnish culture and history, I admire and respect the Finns for many qualities, including their intelligence, their strength and endurance, and their understated sense of humor. But the quality that impresses me most is what the Finns call sisu, which roughly translates to an ability to show stoic courage and tenacity in the face of adversity. The Finnish resistance to Stalin during the 105 days of the Winter War was a classic demonstration of that national trait. While researching this book, I had the privilege of interviewing five Finnish veterans, all of whom exemplified sisu while serving during the Winter War.


I wrote...

The Winter War: A Novel

By William Durbin,

Book cover of The Winter War: A Novel

What is my book about?

When the Soviet Union invades its tiny neighbor Finland in November 1939, Marko volunteers for the army. Even though his leg was weakened by polio, he can ski well, and he becomes a messenger on the front lines, skiing in white camouflage through forests at night in temperatures that drop to -40 and -50. The odds are against the Finns: The Russians have four times as many soldiers and one hundred times as many tanks. But the Russians don’t know winter the way the Finns do, or what tough guerrilla warriors the Finns are. To this day, Finland’s brilliant defensive strategy is studied in every military academy in the world.

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