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April 09 , 2008

War of the White Death

Finland Against the Soviet Union 1939-40


On 30 November 1939 Stalins Red Army attacked Finland, expecting to crush the outnumbered, ill-equipped Finnish forces in a matter of days. But, in one of the most astonishing upsets in modern military history, the Finnish defenders broke the Red Armys advance, inflicting devastating casualties and destroying some of the divisions that had been thrown against them. Eventually, in March 1940, the overhauled Red Army prevailed through the deployment of massive force. The Finns were compelled to cede territory and cities to their overbearing neighbour, but the moral victory was theirs. The courage and skill their army displayed in the face of the Soviet onslaughtand the chaotic and reckless performance of their opponents - had an important influence on the massive struggle that was about to break out between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. For this highly illustrated and original portrayal of this famously unequal struggle, Bair Irincheev has brought together a compelling selection of eyewitness accounts, war diaries, battle reports, and other records from the Finnish and Russian archives to reconstruct the frontline fighting, and he analyses the reasons for the Red Armys poor performance. Never before has the harsh reality of the combat in the depths of the northern winter been conveyed in such authentic detail. The arduous daily experience of the troops on both sides, the brutality of combat and the constant struggle against the elements are recalled in the words of the men who were there.
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