The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles by Roy Jacobsen

The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles by Roy Jacobsen
bookshelves: finland, paper-read, hardback, war, slavic, spring-2012, one-penny-wonder, wwii, published-2005, historical-fiction

Read from March 20 to 21, 2012


Withdrawn from London Borough of Enfield Public Libraries. Translated by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw.

Dedication: To my children – Maria and Daniel

Opening: Suomussalmi was set ablaze on 7 December, after all four thousand inhabitants had been evacuated, except for me, I was born here, had lived here all my life and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else – so when I became aware of a figure in a white uniform standing in front of me, reading from a piece of paper and telling me I had to get out, I dug my heels into the snow and refused to budge.

That is some sentence!

Wanted to read something more from this author as I enjoyed his short story Ice in the anthology: The Norwegian Feeling for Real.

From wiki – The Soviet–Finnish Non-Aggression Pact signed in Helsinki on 21 January 1932. On the left is the Finnish foreign minister Aarno Yrjö-Koskinen, and on the right the ambassador of the Soviet Union, Ivan Maisky

Karelia.

Some history from the Familj Malm archives that I was told today. When f-i-l was a very young boy he lived in Halmstad where there was a Finnish Hostel and one of these young evacuees liked f-i-l so much that he lived with the family for a year or so.

 

P148: “…and from what I heard in Suomussalmi, Sweden and Norway’s betrayal of Finland didn’t necessarily mean they would take kindly to Russian deserters; quite the opposite – these countries feared the Soviet Union.”
 
P158:
 
 
 

The Brothers by Asko Sahlberg

bookshelves: published-2010, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, finland, spring-2014, translation, paper-read, one-penny-wonder, historical-fiction, under-100-ratings, war, cover-love

Read from April 13 to 16, 2014

 

Description: Finland, 1809. Henrik and Erik are brothers who fought on opposite sides in the war between Sweden and Russia. With peace declared, they both return to their snowed-in farm. But who is the master? Sexual tensions, old grudges, family secrets: all come to a head in this dark and gripping saga.

Opening: I have barely caught the crunch of snow and I know who is coming. Henrik treads heavily and unhurriedly, as is his wont, grinding his feet into the earth. The brothers are so different. Erik walks fast, with light steps; he is always in a hurry and then he is gone.

It all began with a horse, a stallion, or rather, a colt: an unruly colt…

Having spent most* of the last weekend finishing up open reads that had laid on the currently reading shelf for too long I was looking for a short snappy paper read that fits into my jacket as palate cleanser and walking companion.

This fitted the bill splendidly, set at the end of the Russian, Swedish war, the brothers Henrik and Erik, who had fought on opposing sides, were united back at the ranch. Let me tell yah, things did not bode well.

* also watched films on youtube: love that films of books via ipad are available no matter where I am ♥ ♥ ♥

Asko Sahlberg (born 1964) is a Finnish novelist.

I can’t praise this series of European shorties highly enough, just look at the covers, scrumptious.

Peirene Press series:

4* The Brothers by Asko Sahlberg
4* The Murder of Halland by Pia Juul
WL Sea of Ink by Richard Weihe

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

bookshelves: e-book, nonfiction, wwii, war, under-500-ratings, tbr-busting-2014, published-1991, military-maneuvers, finland, gr-library

Read from February 27 to March 10, 2014

 

Description: 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.

Dedication:To the memory of Colonel J. N. Pease,
whose faith never wavered

When Stalin says “dance,” a wise man dances.
—Nikita S. Khrushchev, in ‘Khrushcheo Remembers’

Opening: At the easternmost end of the Baltic Sea, between the Gulf of Finland and the vastness of Lake Ladoga, lies the rugged, narrow Karelian Isthmus. Although the land is sternly beautiful—cut laterally by numerous clear blue lakes, tapestried with evergreen forest, and textured by outcroppings of reddish gray granite—it has little intrinsic worth. The soil grows few crops, and those grudgingly, and the scant mineral resources are hardly worth the labor of extraction. Yet there are few comparably small areas of land in all Europe that have been fought over so often and so stubbornly.

Karelian Isthmus

Just how I like my history, concise, to the point, filled with maps and photographs, and without a glimmer of authorial vanity. Excellent.

Finland alone, in danger of death—superb,
sublime Finland—shows what free men can do.
—Winston Churchill, January 1940

Crossposted:
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The Almost Nearly Perfect People

bookshelves: radio-4, winter-20132014, lifestyles-deathstyles, history, nonfiction, emperor-s-new-clothes, fradio, published-2014, sweden, norway, iceland, finland, denmark

Read from February 07 to 14, 2014
BOTWBBC description: Journalist, Michael Booth’s timely new book sees the author embark on a revealing and humorous journey through all five of the Nordic countries to discover the secrets of their success.

Across the week, five post-cards from each of the countries which challenge the often rose-tinted view of this part of the world offered up by the Western media. Along the way, a more nuanced, often darker picture emerges of the region – it isn’t always easy being Nordic.

First up the Danes – consistently rated as the happiest people on earth and yet they pay the highest taxes.

Reader: Gunnar Cauthery
Abridged by Richard Hamilton
Produced by Gemma Jenkins.

1. Denmark: The Danes are consistently rated as the happiest people on earth but pay the highest taxes. In the year that sees a major new exhibition on Vikings at the British Museum our fascination with all things Scandinavian shows no sign of abating.

2. Iceland and the part the Viking spirit played in the country’s response to the 2008 financial crash.

3. Norway – a country taking stock post-Breivik and the impact of the nation’s colossal oil wealth on the Nordic psyche.

4. Enigmatic Finland – a visit to what lies at the heart of the country’s social and political life – the sauna.

5. Sweden – a country held up as a beacon of perfection by the Western world and yet disliked by its neighbours.

The format is pure ACME Hack Methodical Xenophobia
1. some snigger
2. some stats that can be made to mean anything you want
3. some history
4. some smug swagger

This has all been done before in the Xenophobes Guide series. And really, this could be seen as a skit on Mrs. Mortimer’s Bad-Tempered Guide to the Victorian World where the title should be: The Clumsiest People in Scandinavia: Mr Booth’s Bad Tempered Guide to the Perfect-ish World.

The Local runs these cheap country comparisons and national psyche prods as column fillers as a matter of daily routine.

Michael Booth has whipped up interest in the book in following manner: ‘The grim truth behind the Scandinavian miracle’ – the nations respond

So move along, nothing to see here – go spend your hard-earned book money on something worthwhile.