The Daughters of Yalta: The Churchills, Roosevelts, and Harrimans; A Story of Love and War

Houghton Harcourt. Sept. 2020. 416p. ISBN 9780358117858. $28. HIST
Drawing on U.S. and British archives, interviews, and memoirs, this narrative by historian Katz tells the story of the historic World War II Yalta conference from the perspective of three women: Anna Roosevelt, daughter of Franklin D. Roosevelt; Sarah Churchill, daughter of Winston Churchill; and Kathy Harriman, daughter of Averell Harriman, U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union. Katz chronicles 11 days of the 1945 meeting, exploring personal and historical facets of this iconic example of political power. A general history rather than an academic argument, Katz’s book adds new perspectives on Yalta by showing the impact of women on the margins. Besides showing how the women interacted with each other, she portrays their sometimes close, sometimes distant relationships with their fathers. At the book’s heart is a mindset extending beyond the heroines and promising wide appeal: “wanting nothing more than to feel like you matter to your dad.” While missing a nuanced Soviet perspective and seeming at times too close to its sources to be balanced, Katz’s work is invaluable for bringing to life a historical moment in ways that are almost novelistic.
VERDICT This impressively researched book will appeal to general history readers interested in untold perspectives of World War II.

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