Your interesting but useless bit of trivia for the evening: My great grandparents on my father’s side were Finns. I actually got to meet my great grandmother many times. By the time I was 5 or 6 she was in her late 80s and I’d go visit her when I went to see my grandparents in the summers. She was an industrious woman and every time I saw her she had a laundry basket of clothes for me that she’d made by hand. Somehow or another she always got the sizes perfect even though she only saw me once a year.
Apparently I still have relatives over there, though I’ve never met them.
Finland has been in life since I was born, so when I saw Christoph’s book about Finland in the early 1900s I knew I had to read it. Someday I hope to get to the old country and see what it’s really like over there.
The book in question is In Search Of A Revolution and uses the Finnish Civil War and World War II as backdrops for three characters struggling to find and understand their own place in the world. In a way, the revolution and World War II mirror the characters’ own internal revolutions and that is really the heart of the book. There’s some action in In Search Of A Revolution, but it’s not a war book. There’s not much glory in war as portrayed by Christoph Fischer so don’t go into it thinking this is a book where the good guys blow up the bad guys.
Christoph weaves the Finnish Civil War and World War II as much more complicated things than a simple case of these are good guys and these are bad guys. The characters of the novel are similarly more complicated and nuanced. Much like most of us, Zaccharias, Ansgar, and Raisa are far from being perfect people and their interactions (Zaccharias and Ansgar have very different political leanings) mirror the complicated structures of the background politics.
Everyone who reads a book will take away something different, especially if a book is deep enough to allow for enough layers to be exposed.
What was particularly interesting to me was looking at the philosophies of the characters through my American eyes. The Communist in the story (Zaccharias) has a firm belief that everyone should be able to have a say in government. Ansgar feels that’s a bad idea because the common people aren’t really capable of making those decisions because they don’t have the depth of understanding necessary for choosing their destinies. Likewise when World War II breaks out and the characters debate siding with Hitler over Stalin.
It’s kind of hard to find the lesser of two evils between those two.
In final analysis, In Search of a Revolution is about three people trying to come to grips with their own ideas of how the world should work versus the way the world does work. It’s about alliances of necessity. It’s about finding a way when the way isn’t obvious, coming to the stark realization that what we want things to be aren’t always the way things are, and the realization that that’s not a bad thing.
This is a good book by a good author who understands how to interwine the large events of nations of millions with the smaller events of a nation of three (with an add-onn fourth later on).