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Yalta: The Price of Peace


"A colorful and gripping portrait of the three aging leaders at their historic encounter." -The Wall Street Journal

For eight fateful days in 1945, three of the towering figures of the twentieth century-FDR, Churchill, and Stalin-met at a resort town on the Black Sea to decide on a strategy to defeat Germany and Japan, and to carve up the world. For more than sixty years, opinion has been bitterly divided on what they achieved. Did Yalta pave the way to the Cold War? Did FDR ...

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Yalta: The Price of Peace

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"A colorful and gripping portrait of the three aging leaders at their historic encounter." -The Wall Street Journal

For eight fateful days in 1945, three of the towering figures of the twentieth century-FDR, Churchill, and Stalin-met at a resort town on the Black Sea to decide on a strategy to defeat Germany and Japan, and to carve up the world. For more than sixty years, opinion has been bitterly divided on what they achieved. Did Yalta pave the way to the Cold War? Did FDR give too much to Stalin? In this groundbreaking book, Harvard historian S. M. Plokhy draws on newly declassified Soviet documents and unpublished diaries and letters of the participants to set the record straight.

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Editorial Reviews

Andrew Nagorski
Harvard historian S.M. Plokhy has provided a rich new narrative of the eight days of meetings in the Crimean resort between Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill in February 1945. Drawing upon formerly secret Soviet documents and reports and memoirs from all three sides, he brings the conference and its key players to life, making a familiar story feel lively and fresh…Plokhy's book makes for compelling reading—for its details and drama…
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Harvard historian Plokhy (Unmaking Imperial Russia) enhances his stature as a scholar of modern Russia in this convincing revisionist analysis of the February 1945 Yalta conference. Plokhy makes sophisticated use of Soviet sources to make a case that Yalta was anything but the diplomatic defeat for the West so often depicted in cold war literature. He describes Yalta in the context of a clash between different approaches to international relations. FDR was a liberal internationalist. Churchill and Stalin saw the world in terms of power and interests. And with the Red Army only 50 miles from Berlin, “Stalin held the trump cards.” Plokhy's detailed and highly engrossing narrative of the negotiations shows that the West did reasonably well. Roosevelt's agenda was global. He secured Stalin's commitment to join the war against Japan and participate in the U.N. Churchill, focused on Europe, preserved British interests in the Mediterranean. Stalin achieved recognition of the U.S.S.R.'s great-power status and a sphere of influence in Eastern Europe. The Yalta agreement was not the first conflict of the cold war but just a step toward a cold war that emerged only after three more years of failed negotiations. Maps. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Stalin, Churchill, and Roosevelt met at Yalta in January 1945 to plot out the finale of World War II and to begin dividing up the great powers' responsibilities. President Roosevelt had not yet returned to America when the arguments began. Had he given up too much? Was he too weakened by overwork and illness? Did Alger Hiss or Guy Burgess betray crucial secrets? Did Yalta cause the Cold War? Newly declassified Soviet archives and the diaries of many secondary players contribute to this major reconsideration of Yalta. Plokhy (history, Harvard; Unmaking Imperial Russia) deals with an enormous cast of characters and an equally enormous mass of detail, marshaling it into an interesting and readable narrative and concluding that Roosevelt didn't do too badly. VERDICT Readers interested in World War II and diplomatic history, who may also want to look at Fraser J. Harbutt's Yalta 1945, are likely to find this detailed and revisionist account worth reading. They will also enjoy Andrew Roberts's Masters and Commanders: How Four Titans Won the War in the West, 1941–1945.—Edwin B. Burgess, U.S. Army Combined Arms Research Lib., Fort Leavenworth, KS
Kirkus Reviews
An astute reappraisal of the Yalta Conference. The Big Three-Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin-met under heavily guarded, secret conditions over eight days in February 1945 to establish a blueprint of geopolitical interests for the anticipated peace after World War II. Churchill was eager to preserve British "spheres of influences" in Europe from Soviet Communism; Franklin Roosevelt, in faltering health, was insistent on securing Soviet cooperation in a world peace organization and a democratic government in Poland; Joseph Stalin wanted to preserve the new territorial borders granted under the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939. The war in Europe had turned, due largely to the Russian thrust against the Germans, and the Soviets had already taken Bucharest, Sofia, Budapest and Belgrade and were headed for Berlin. The Western allies were alarmed about the Communist takeover of Eastern Europe. Subjects to be wrangled among the diplomats included the winter military offensive; Germany's "dismemberment"; a "bombline" defining aerial operations; the cost of Soviet participation in the war in the Pacific; the division of the Balkans; and the ultimate sellout of Poland. Above all, FDR desired to remain "on friendly footing" with Stalin, even if Churchill was frequently slighted. With the onset of the Cold War, the Americans paid the price for their amiable legitimizing of Soviet concerns. Enlisting documents from all sides-there was no official record kept of the conference, and the Soviets had the Livadia Palace effectively bugged-Plokhy (Harvard Univ.; The Origins of the Slavic Nations, 2006, etc.) gets at the secret dealmaking and shades of deceit present at the conference.High expectations for the "spirit of Yalta" in both the West and East collapsed into mutual suspicion soon after Roosevelt's death, and the author effectively addresses the fateful aftermath. Fresh research drives this scholarly study of the complex blend of Yalta's personalities and ideas. Local author events near Arlington, Mass. Agent: Steve Wasserman/Kneerim & Williams
Brian John Murphy
Plokhy tells [his] stories in great detail and with consummate skill, making Yalta a book that belongs not only in WWII libraries, but also in the collections of all who are interested in the mid-20th century. Yalta, Plokhy tells us, was not a peace conference deciding issues between the Allies and Germany. It was a conference about keeping the peace between the Big Three powers themselves. Roosevelt said he was bargaining for 50 years free of war in Europe. He got his wish, but the price was 44 years of what President John F. Kennedy called "a hard and bitter peace," brought about by the bad faith and ideological and political aggression of the Soviet Union.
America In WWII Magazine
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143118923
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/25/2011
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 353,968
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

S. M. Plokhy is the Mykhailo Hrushevky Professor of Ukrainian History at Harvard University and the author of several award-winning works on modern Russian and Ukrainian history.
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 2, 2010

    Well worth revisiting Yalta

    Unlike most Yalta Conference books that focus on how ill FDR was going into the meetings, Plokhy focuses on what goals the major players came with and how they ended up. Understanding how much FDR was willing to bargain to get the Soviets to support the UN and join the war against Japan; what he "gave away" is put in better perspective. Likewise, how Churchill's relative influence as an equal among the Big Three had diminished by that time is well treated. Perhaps most interesting is how well Stalin, armed with the results of his espionage, deftly played his hand in those negotiations.

    If you are interested in the politics of WWII, and not just the battles, I would highly recommend this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 5, 2011

    Very thorough

    As a child of the Cold War who frequently wondered, "how did such a terrible four decades happen", this book gives some answers, with a very thorough and informative description of the Yalta conference: its discussions, what each of the parties wanted, and the outcome.

    Never knew, for example, that it was Stalin who wanted Poland's border with German to be moved as far westward as possible but the western Allies were opposed, giving more territory to a new Communist government. The details are all here.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2010

    Key decisions that affected the world post World War II

    If you love world history and how it effects todays world you will enjoy this book. I learned a great deal about Stalin in this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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