Book Review: Northern European Overture to War, 1939-1941: From Memel to Barbarossa


by Michael H. Clemmesen & Marcus S. Faulkner, editors

Leiden / Boston: E.J. Brill, 2013 . Pp. xvi, 520. Illus., maps, diagr., notes, index. $220.00. ISBN: 9004249087

Northern Europe from the Nazi-Soviet Pact to Barbarossa

This work, a volume in the Brill series “History of Warfare,” includes two dozen papers covering various aspects of policy, politics, strategy, and war in Scandinavia and the Baltic littoral by all countries in or with objectives in the region. The volume opens with an introduction by the editors, respectively scholars at the Danish Centre for Military History and King's College London. There follow five groups of essays, all present interesting, and at times ground-breaking ideas, written by specialists in the field, though most are likely unfamiliar to English-speaking readers.

“The Great Powers and their Approaches to the Region” includes seven essay on the policies and actions of the various powers in the region, including the very interesting “Containment and Cold War before the Nuclear Age” and “Responding with Kindness or in Kind?,” on the problems of democracies confronted with aggression.

The second part includes four essays on “The Fourth Partition of Poland-Lithuania and Other Effects of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact"

Part III, “Scandinavia and Weserübung” includes seven essays on various aspects of the planning, preparations, and execution of the German invasion of Norway and Denmark.

The fourth part, “The Final Months of Soviet Geostrategic Preparations,” contains just two essays, one on Soviet military plans and preparations on the eve of Barbarossa and the other on Swedish military planning.

The fifth and final part, “The Historiography,” has three essays exploring various aspects of the history and memory of the events.

While Northern European Overture to War will be of particular value to specialists in the region during the war, these essays can also be read with profit by serious students of the war as a whole as well as by those interested the history of policy and strategy.

Note:  Northern European Overture to War is also available as an e-pub, ISBN 978-9-0042-4909-7.


Reviewer: A.A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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