Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Winter War: The Russo Finnish War Of 1939 1940” as Want to Read:
The Winter War: The Russo Finnish War Of 1939 1940
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Winter War: The Russo Finnish War Of 1939 1940

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  959 ratings  ·  94 reviews
This is a book of battles--savagely fought, often with great heroism on both sides, under brutal, subarctic conditions. 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 were the elements of Finland's short-lived victory.

For all the epic resistance of the

Published (first published May 1991)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Winter War, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Winter War

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.15  · 
Rating details
 ·  959 ratings  ·  94 reviews

More filters
Sort order
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I will admit that my knowledge of Finland is a bit sketchy. It is limited to Sibelius (name only I am afraid), Sami Hyppia, Lassi Viren, Leningrad Cowboys Go America and those heavy metal berserkers who won Eurovision.

I also knew a little about the Winter War in 1939 where the plucky Finns fought the Red Army, and I was curious to know why and how they were relatively successful where so many of the other nations in the buffer zone between Stalin and Hitler were first chewed up by the Nazis and
A. L. Sowards
My little brother has been telling me for years that I should read this book. He told me it would make me want to be Finn for a day. After reading about how cold it was during the war between the Finns and the Soviets in 1939, I don’t think I want to be a Finn (burr!), but I do admire them. A lot.

This book talks about how the Soviet Union invaded Finland. And despite the fact that the Red Army vastly outnumbered the Finns and had far superior air power, armor, and artillery, the Finns did an im
Henna Pääkkönen
Being a Finn who was raised overseas, I have never officially studied Finnish history and hence try to educate myself during my adult years by reading books on it… Having my grandparents lived through the winter war, and having my granddad had to evacuate from his home in the Karelian Isthmus, this war hits “close home” and feels like it was only yesterday… I am enormously grateful for the generation of my grandparents for having defended my country and for having managed to keep it “free” and a ...more
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Firstly, I have the UK edition, titled The Winter War: The Russo-Finnish War of 1939-40. I find this to be a more apt title than the more excitingly titled American edition: A Frozen Hell: The Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939-1940. This book is an amateurish military history of an oft over-looked conflict at the very beginning of WWII. It’s a survey study providing a brief description of the operations during the conflict. A serious student of Military and Diplomatic history is going to need t ...more
Sisu is a Finnish word which is especially relevant in this book. Sisu is a special strength and persistent determination and resolve to continue and overcome in the moment of adversity, an almost magical quality, a combination of stamina, perseverance, courage, and determination held in reserve for hard times.

Stoic, staunch defense in overwhelming odds is one thing, to survive and somewhat hold its own for as long as it did is quite a feat. The Finns should be proud.

Andrew Davis
Jan 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Well written account of Winter War. The maps could be better, especially when dealing with places that since have been taken by Russians and Google Maps is of no help. A brief synopsis follows.
Finland was ruled till 1809 by Sweden. A part close to Petersburg belonged to Russia. After that belonged to Russia. Soon after October Revolution in Russia, the Finnish Parliament assumed sovereignty.
In October 1939 Stalin issued summons to the Finns to discuss the current situation. Russians wanted some
Derek Weese
Jul 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was strange, while reading this book I felt this, rather odd, yet comfortable, presence overcome me. For a time I thought about massive, thick, conifer forests, snowy landscapes, beautiful, yet small and quaint cities, beautiful women and some of the best metal music in the world. While reading this book, I wanted to be a Finn. For a few days, I believed I was an honorary one.
This is an excellent, if brief, history of an event that is largely unknown in the annals of the military history of
Aug 19, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I have read a great deal of material about the 1939-1940 Soviet-Finnish War in Russian on the Internet, but not a single-volume popular English-language history book about this war. This is such a book. It talks in detail about how the prewar negotiations broke down; why the Soviets did not understand that their conditions were unacceptable to the Finns; the action on each front during the first period of the war, which the Finns, amazingly, won, despite having a much smaller army and few arms c ...more
Dec 08, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military-history
Much neglected, if not entirely unknown, in American's World War Two frame of reference, is the war as it played out in the Nordic regions; in this case the so-called Russo-Finnish Winter War. This book is an exceptionally interesting account of the Soviet invasion of Finland, presumably to acquire, at the least, Finnish land as a buffer against a possible Nazi advance via Norway. Particularly noteworthy are the acheivements of the Finnish infantry's elite ski snipers, who put a serious damper o ...more
Jun 18, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Admittedly biased, sensationalized "popular history", that's a quick, easy read. Zing-bang-pow! The author knows a good deal about the "heroes" of his book - the Finns, but not nearly as much about the Red Army who engaged them and why, most of the politics is glossed over. The only useful information in this book are the basic who what when where facts that it does contain, more or less. Check out Carl Van Dyke's "The Soviet Invasion of Finland" instead.
Vicky Hunt
"The Dead in their Frozen Hundreds"

An account of the Finnish resistance to Russia's onslaught in 1939 that ends with Stalin taking much land from Finland, but only after Russia pays for it with the life of untold thousands of soldiers. It was reckoned by some soviets that the ground stolen from Finland was barely enough room to bury the dead. The Finns fought well beyond the point where they knew they would lose. Very little help was given to Finland. Even Sweden and Norway refused to allow Eng
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was an excellent book. If only all history and war books were written in this style.
The author begins the book with a short backstory on the relationship of the belligerents, and their respective leaders; Gustav Mannerheim, and Joseph Stalin. He then talks about the factors leading to the tensions between the nations, namely Stalin's fear of a Wehrmacht assault across the Karelian Isthmus, which would jeopardize Russia's only ice-free port, the city of Leningrad.
The book continues on wi
May 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Ive started or finished so many Finnish Winter war books lately - this is by far the best and the only one you need. It covers the politics, it covers (surprisingly detailed, full chapter "tangent" of sorts but amazing) Mannerheims whole career from Imperialist to president, and then of course the conduct of the war. It does a wonderful job of explaining the particulars of equipment, the tactics, the strategy, and the politics, and even the drama and delusional Nationalism roots without being ju
Blaine Welgraven
A remarkable book, and maybe the most readable-yet-scholarly war history I've ever read. Trotter legitimately matches such great war historians as Ambrose and Atkinson in the clarity and intelligibility of his writing. The scene he lays out captures your attention from page 1: European nations diplomatically dither, Germany watches with interest, and Russia's massive army invades (on the pretense of Finnish aggression) against a nation of four million people. The odds were well beyond staggering ...more
Jon Z.
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am not familiar with Finland, other than they are responsible for the fantastic saunas I sit in, their national sport is their unique take on baseball, and they are the best drinkers in Scandinavia.

Frozen Hell paints them as possibly the toughest infantry of WWII. Stopping tanks with machine guns, Molotov cocktails and mortars. Plus they had no air force to speak of. Using their terrain they liquidized thousands of Soviet soldiers who's remains have probably never been found. Expert skiers wh
Jeffrey Williams
I have read a few books about the Winter War of 1939-1940 and so far this is among the best. However, if you are new to the subject, I would recommend reading Eloise Engle and Lauri Paananen's "The Winter War: The Soviet Attack on Finland 1939-1940" first in order to set the context, and then read this one. Engle and Paananen do a better job in setting the context as Trotter goes much more in depth.

It's the depth which Trotter brings to the story that makes this one valuable once you have a bas
Matthew Powers
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
BLUF: A great overview of Finland's Winter War. The first part of the book provides a concise overview of the geostrategic considerations regarding Finland, the Baltic Sea, and the Soviet Union - including an insightful Soviet defensive realism perspective that remains applicable to contemporary Russian strategic calculus. There is a great mini-bio on Gustav Mannerheim as well, which is enjoyable. The majority of the book covers the operational and tactical campaigns, with terrific anecdotes and ...more
James Crabtree
May 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent study of the Winter War, which saw the USSR hurl entire divisions against tiny Finland's regiments and battalions. In a war that should have been a pushover for Stalin the Finns managed to do surprisingly well. An inspiration for many of the democracies still untouched by the new world war, it nevertheless saw Finland fighting a desperate war with no concrete help from outside. The hard fighting done by these free men still resonates today. A little redundant in places, but the book is ...more
Oct 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I give this book 4 stars, not because I actually enjoyed it, but because it is very well researched and very well written, and therefore I feel it deserves at least 4 stars. However, I personally endured it more than enjoyed it.

This book should only be read by someone who is: 1) interested in war details and history AND/OR 2) someone who has an intense interest in Finland. The first is probably a more important factor in enjoying this book, seeing as how I have more than enough of #2 but strugg
May 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good English language account of the Russo-Finnish winter war. Trotter does a nice job of explaining both the military and diplomatic action.

I came away with a better understanding of Mannerheim and the dynamics that shaped him.

One challenge of this topic is that the Finns holding off the Soviets is one of the great underdog stories of the 20th century, but the author's continued praise of all things Finnish does have you wonder in the back of your head - is this a straightforward analysis of th
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Nice overview of the the Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union, where the tiny but highly-motivated Finnish army under Mannerheim kept the massive but poorly prepared Red Army at bay for a very long time. Ultimately, the Russians did gain their stated objective, but Finland did not become a Soviet satellite state; and the war is still very important in the Finnish self-image.

I'm no historian, so can't really vet for the accuracy, but the book is well-written, and besides the politics a
Chris Thorley
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've always been interested in The Winter War as it was a curios side show during world war 2 and a classic David v Goliath story. Reading this makes me realise that Finlands brave opposition to the Soviet Union was as much due to the latters incompetence and arrogance in their approach to the invasion. The book was very detailed (probably slightly too detailed to remember what exactly went on with each front of the war) and there were lots of interesting bits of information throughout.
Ritva Strengell
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To read this book gives me a vision of the real heroism of the Finnish soldier! Things that my father never wanted to tell. And the history lessons in school never touched.
The book has long description of battles that makes it a heavy reading and are interesting to historians, not common reader .
Jul 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The classic history of the Winter War, still valuable despite having been written before access to Soviet documents was possible for western researchers. Trotter provides as much balance as possible with the sources available to him, considering the path to war, the conflict, the possibilities of foreign intervention, and the peace settlement, with a coda on the subsequent Continuation War.
Feb 10, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very detailed in its play-by-play of the Winter War. Imminently useful for students or scholars. For a casual reader it can be a bit dry, although it definitely does Baron Mannerheim the respect and detail that he deserves.
Mar 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book about brave little country's heroic war. Go, Finland!
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very good book, that details the entire winter war. It covers some of the major battles and events. It is a very long book.
Christopher Moore
Very interesting thorough book on an unknown chapter in WW2 history.
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Solid, well-researched and structured. Provides a good overview of especially the military operations during the 105 days of war 1939 to 1940.
Michael Moros
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book on a little-known war. It should have more detailed maps. Google earth did not help.
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Road to Berlin
  • The Battle of Kursk
  • Barbarossa
  • War Without Garlands: Operation Barbarossa 1941-42
  • Ostkrieg: Hitler's War of Extermination in the East
  • To Lose a Battle: France 1940
  • Rising '44: The Battle for Warsaw
  • Eastern Inferno: The Journals of a German Panzerjäger on the Eastern Front, 1941-1943
  • Italy's Sorrow: A Year of War, 1944-1945
  • Das Reich: The March of the 2nd SS Panzer Division Through France, June 1944
  • Touched with Fire: The Land War in the South Pacific
  • Monte Cassino: The Hardest Fought Battle of World War II
  • Tigers In The Mud: The Combat Career of German Panzer Commander Otto Carius
  • Arnhem 1944: The Airborne Battle, 17-26 September
  • In Deadly Combat: A German Soldier's Memoir of the Eastern Front
  • Stalin's Folly: The Tragic First Ten Days of WWII on the Eastern Front
  • Finland's War Of Choice: The Troubled German-Finnish Coalition in World War II
  • Stalingrad: How the Red Army Triumphed
See similar books…
“He was a noble man, as well as a nobleman." * "Mannerheim did not grow up among the masses, but in a castle.... he was a cosmopolite in the age of nationalism; an aristocrat in the age of democracy; a conservative in the age of revolutions."t” 0 likes
“One Soviet general, looking at a map of the territory Russia had acquired on the Karelian Isthmus, is said to have remarked: "We have won just about enough ground to bury our dead” 0 likes
More quotes…