How Finland Survived Stalin

Kimmo Rentola


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Yale University Press
14 November 2023
ISBN: 9780300273618
304 pages

From the publisher

A dramatic and timely account of Stalin's failed invasion of Finland in 1939, and the decade of wars and fraught relations that followed

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.