Syntynyt Sotilaaksi ("Born a Soldier") was published in Finland in November 2003 by Finnish publisher Otava. Sales were brisk and with only two marketing months before the end of the year, it still rose to one of the best sold non-fiction works in Finland in 2003. Over the years since, the book has gone through nine hard cover printings. A paperback edition was also on the top ten paperback charts when it came out.
Many Finnish readers undoubtedly identify with Lauri Törni (Larry Thorne's name at birth) as an underdog, up-from-the-ranks officer in one of the true underdog armies of World War II. His legend was larger than life. His war-time experiences overwhelmingly appealed to a younger generation that, now the Cold War was over and the Soviet threat to Finland gone, was hungry to hear more about the brave men who defended their country in the darkest of times.
But Lauri Törni/Larry Thorne was also an American and a legendary Green Beret officer. His story transcended the Finnish experience to cover America's Cold War and Vietnam years, their glories and anguish. Although his life was one of those that many might find more credible if it were fictional, it was absolutely true. His often near mythical lore is a historical legacy as much for Americans as it is for his native Finns.
The release of Syntynyt Sotilaaksi was timed to coincide with the annual Helsinki Book Fair where a number of events promoted its publication. Finnish publisher Otava also organized an interview and book-signing at the Academic Book Store, Finland's largest. Among the crowds were many of Thorne's generation, including a number of people who knew or served under him.
© J. Michael Cleverley 2008