This Abridged version of Episode 1 looks at how the 1939 Soviet invasion of Finland catalyzed the creation of the 10th Mountain Division… with a little help from the National Ski Patrol System, the United States Army, and a couple of twenty-something climbers from The American Alpine Club.

See here for an overview of the characters mentioned in this episode.

Available only to patrons, the Unabridged episode of The Winter War features an extended interview with Professor David Murphy, the author of The Finnish-Soviet Winter War 1939–40: Stalin’s Hollow Victory, on the Winter War, as well as:

  • extensive photographs from the Winter War that detail and illustrate Finnish tactics
  • photos and newspaper articles highlighting the US Army’s preparations for winter warfare in the decades preceding the Winter War
  • a transcription of the entire episode, illustrated with historic photos

Patrons are the heart of Ninety-Pound Rucksack. Their support allows us to pursue the show’s journalistic and educational objectives as we inform and inspire the public about the Division’s living legacy. In return, they receive exclusive access to all Unabridged content.

If you haven’t already, please consider becoming a patron. Our goal with Ninety-Pound Rucksack is to inform and inspire the public about the Division’s living legacy. Patrons make that possible. In return, they receive access to all Unabridged content.

Episode 1 Synopsis:

The Abridged version of Episode 1 begins with an overview of the events that led up to the 1939 invasion of Finland, aka The Winter War. Podcast host Christian Beckwith interviews Professor Murphy about Finnish tactics and how those tactics influenced global military considerations of winter warfare, including the realization that America needed a cold-weather and mountain fighting unit of its own.

Beckwith then interviews Ninety-Pound Rucksack advisory board member McKay Jenkins, author of The Last Ridge: The Epic Story of the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division and the Assault on Hitler’s Europe, about Charles Minot Dole, the man commonly credited with the Division’s formation.

The episode then explores two other driving factors in the 10th’s inception: the U.S. Army’s winter warfare preparations prior to the Winter War; and the role two young members of The American Alpine Club, H. Adams Carter and Bob Bates, played in the genesis of the Division.

This section of the episode includes an interview with Maurice Isserman, a climbing historian and Professor of American history at Hamilton College who has written a history of the 10th Mountain Division entitled The Winter Army: The World War II Odyssey of the 10th Mountain Division, America’s Elite Alpine Warriors.  

The episode concludes with a summary of the ways civilian skiers, climbers and the US Army converged in their efforts to launch America’s first mountain unit.

Mentioned resources