A History of Finland
Directions, Structures, Turning-Points
A brisk and bold history of Finland from integrated part of the Swedish kingdom to autonomous Grand Duchy
Henrik Meinander paints a brisk and bold picture of the history of Finland from integrated part of the Swedish kingdom to autonomous Grand Duchy within the Russian empire, gradually transformed and maturing into a conscious nation, independent state and skilful adapter of modern technology. The main geographical context for his study is the Baltic region, and the author links his analysis to structural developments and turning points in European history. The book blends politics, economy and culture to show how human and natural resources in Finland have been utilised and the impact its cultural heritage and technological innovation have had on its development. In a departure from most conventional approaches, Meinander gives greater emphasis to recent and contemporary events. In other words, he puts Finland into a range of historical contexts in its Baltic and European settings to highlight how both together have formed Finland into what it is at the beginning of the twenty-first century.
Henrik Meinander is Professor of History at the University of Helsinki and the author of many acclaimed books on Finnish and Nordic history. He was formerly curator of the Mannerheim Museum in Helsinki and head of the Finnish Institute in Stockholm.
‘… a thoughtful and eminently readable volume. … Meinander gives readers an opportunity to look back in an unusually nuanced and informed manner.’ — Andrew Newby, English Historical Review
‘An excellent counterpoint to David Kirby’s A Concise History of Finland, this volume goes well beyond the chiefly political analysis that informs Kirby’s survey and includes substantial information on literary, philosophical, musical, linguistic, pedagogical and general cultural topics, providing a deeper and more nuanced overview of the Finns from prehistoric times to the present. Concentrating on the early modern period to the present, the author gives outstanding summaries of the events and issues during the Swedish and Russian dominions and provides an excellent account of the postindependence decades. Meinander supplies an evenhanded, thoughtful analysis of the civil war and its aftermath, leading into a frank, insightful review of the Winter War, the Continuation War, and the Lapland War, which brought WWII to an end in Finland. He also advances convincing arguments for Finland’s Cold War foreign policy and for its postwar economic successes, including its integration into the European Union and its cooperation with NATO. Written in a clear, concise style, the book contains numerous high-quality illustrations as well as a valuable if brief bibliography. If a library can have only one book on modern Finnish history, this is the one.’ — CHOICE, Outstanding Academic Title
‘Neither publisher nor author was lacking self-confidence when they decided to produce this survey of Finnish history. … Meinander is a master of elegant compression and writes with precision and subtlety. … The result is a genuinely entertaining read.’ — Jukka Tarkka, Helsingin Sanomat, Helsinki
‘A History of Finland is an extraordinarily readable and well-balanced book. Meinander’s clarity of vision has placed Finland in a Nordic and European perspective as well as skilfully weaving political, economic and cultural developments into an integral whole.’ — Lennart Berntson, Svenska Dagbladet, Stockholm
‘Meinander has managed to blend everything into his presentation, from the Ice Age to the NATO question. The style is elegant but at the same time so full of substance that the reader is both drawn along by the text and continually surprised by the impact the choice of a few particular words can have on the overall picture.’ — Jari-Pekka Vuorela, Aamulehti, Tampere
‘Meinander is scholarly, analytical and a gifted stylist. He draws conclusions without being contentious. … His History of Finland is never rigid or overstated and is permeated with a scholarship and delight in words which makes for a pleasurable and intellectual adventure. This is no argumentative attempt to be different — yet the fact that it is shows the book’s scope and intellectual strength.’ — Birger Thölix, Vasabladet, Vaasa