Jukka Sarjala: Kotomaamme outo Suomi [Finland, our strange homeland]

4 April 2013 | Mini reviews, Reviews

sarjala.jukkaKotomaamme outo Suomi
[Finland, our strange homeland]
Helsinki: Teos, 2013. 264 p.
ISBN 978-951-851-440-7
€ 27, paperback

Jukka Sarjala, ex-director general of the Finnish National Board of Education and bibliophile, is the author of several works of non-fiction, mainly in the field of history. In this book he focuses on the phenomena and events that characterised early twentieth-century Finland, some of them rather peculiar. In a couple of dozen chapters written in a humorous and conversational style the author does not conceal his own opinions, for example, on the foolishness of politicians. Much of the writing is devoted to the era of Finnish independence and the Finnish Civil War, as well as to episodes from political history, such as the story of the attempt to import to the newly independent country a German-born prince as King of Finland, the vagaries of the political far right and far left, the recruitment of Finnish Reds into the British Army – and the horse that gave rise to a small rebel movement. Sarjala draws many fascinating portraits of early twentieth-century figures, for example the utopian socialist Matti Kurikka and the founder of a party that in some ways anticipated the present-day True Finns [Perussuomalaiset], the talkative politician Veikko Vennamo (1913–1997). Although the book lacks footnotes and a bibliography, it demonstrates its author’s extensive reading.
Translated by David McDuff

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