Skillfully written and meticulously researched, it’s an extraordinary work that reveals the human side underlying the politics . . . The Daughters of Yalta is a thoroughly engrossing book, as acute about the contentious politics of the day as it is about the remarkable daughters who participated.” —Wall Street Journal “[In] Catherine Grace Katz’s detailed behind-the-scenes account . . . she skillfully marshals diaries, letters, oral histories and memoirs to support her thesis that the pressures of wartime had warped normal familial bonds, so that the Western leaders’ relationships with their daughters had become more like those between business partners than between parent and child. Loyalty and discretion were prized above all . . . Light on political drama, this entertaining history is nevertheless packed with vivid personalities, jockeying aides and insider observations about a pivotal moment in history.” —New York Times Book Review “A stirring account of one momentous week that would unleash fifty years of tyranny for half of Europe and plunge the world into the Cold War, as seen through the eyes of three young women. Catherine Grace Katz’s debut book, The Daughters of Yalta, is a marvelous and extraordinary work that reveals the human experience of the conference, with all its tragedy, love, betrayal, and even humor. She defines the relationships that shaped our world, and continue to shape our future.” —Julian Fellowes, Oscar-winning writer and creator of Downton Abbey “Catherine Grace Katz paints a vivid portrait of one of history’s great international summits through the eyes of three young women, each a daughter of a key participant. We get the inside story, and learn the compelling details that bring history to life.” —Erik Larson, author of The Splendid and the Vile “Catherine Grace Katz’s The Daughters of Yalta is a revelation. It’s a story of World War II, the origins of the Cold War, a key moment in diplomatic history, but above all a coming-of-age tale about three fascinating women in an extraordinary time.” —Jeffrey Toobin, author of True Crimes and Misdemeanors and American Heiress “Both intimate and sweeping, Catherine Grace Katz vividly captures a little known story against the backdrop of a very big one. Meticulously researched and emotionally gripping.”—Amy Pascal, producer, Little Women (2019) “The Daughters of Yalta is an absorbing, revealing, and expertly crafted narrative that takes us behind the scenes of some of World War Two’s most consequential periods of political leadership and diplomacy. Catherine Grace Katz possesses a novelist’s gift for character, and for how supposedly minor characters may influence and color the intimate movements of history. A truly impressive debut.” —John Burnham Schwartz, author of The Red Daughter and The Commoner “The Daughters of Yalta is yet more proof that behind every great man is an army of exceptional women. We need their stories told; so three cheers for Catherine Katz!” —Amanda Foreman, author of Georgiana and A World on Fire “In 1945 an American president, his ambassador to the Soviet Union, and a British prime minister chose to make the trip to Yalta with their daughters in tow. Over the next weeks those ‘second mates’ served as their fathers’ eyes and ears, their tasters, confidantes, and chiefs of staff. They gate-kept and play-acted, eradicated bedbugs, held their vodka, and offered up toasts, as Stalin cunningly put it, ‘to the broad sunlight of victorious peace.’ In a rich, captivating narrative, Catherine Grace Katz gives us a wholly original Yalta, one seen from a different gender and generation.” —Stacy Schiff, author of Cleopatra and The Witches "Well-researched, well-written, and evocative . . . Katz has produced a new, absorbing prism through which to view the tragedy that was Yalta."—Andrew Roberts, Claremont Review of Books “A singular take on the history of the Yalta Conference, viewed through the eyes of the three notable daughters who supported their famous fathers, the ‘Big Three,’ and contributed in heretofore undocumented ways . . . A substantive debut work of first-rate scholarship . . . Katz effectively shows how these three often overlooked women proved to be indispensable in a variety of ways. Engaging, multilayered history of the best kind, grounded in telling detail and marvelous personalities.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review “This sparkling account offers a fresh take on a decisive moment in the history of WWII and the Cold War . . . Gleaning a treasure trove of details from memoirs, diaries, and letters, Katz documents poor sanitary conditions . . . at the ransacked summer palaces where the delegations stayed, analyzes diplomatic maneuverings, and shares plenty of spicy gossip . . . Katz debuts with a vivid and revealing account of . . . the daughters of Roosevelt, Churchill, and Harriman at the 1945 Yalta Peace Conference.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review “An intricately detailed history . . . [Katz] offers an intimate portrait of the networks of friendships, shared professional histories, and other links that were forged in Anglo-American diplomatic circles and which shaped the conference's progress.” —Booklist “Katz’s work is invaluable for bringing to life a historical moment in ways that are almost novelistic.” —Library Journal
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.—Jennifer Flaherty, Univ. of California, Berkeley
A singular take on the history of the Yalta Conference, viewed through the eyes of the three notable daughters who supported their famous fathers, the “Big Three,” and contributed in heretofore undocumented ways.
In a substantive debut work of first-rate scholarship, Katz—a Cambridge- and Harvard-educated historian now pursuing a degree at Harvard Law School—delves into the behind-the-scenes soft diplomacy of the “Little Three”: Kathleen Harriman, the “glamorous” daughter of the U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union; Anna Roosevelt, a mother of three and former newspaper editor; and Sarah Churchill, an aerial reconnaissance intelligence analyst in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. Each has a fascinating backstory involving the relationship with her respective father, and each played an important role during what promised to be an arduous meeting to figure out the endgame of World War II and postwar reorganization of Europe. Through letters home and dispatches written by the three young women, Katz efficiently relays this fly-on-the-wall account of how the three sprawling delegations managed to get any business accomplished. FDR was housed in the czar’s former summer palace of Livadia, on the Black Sea, which had been occupied and trashed by the Nazi invaders; Churchill and the British billeted at nearby Vorontsov Palace; and Stalin and his people at the Koriez Villa and Yusupov Palace, situated between the American and British residences. The main topics of discussion were Polish nationality, the methods by which to deal with a defeated Germany, and how to draw the Soviets into the Pacific theater to aid the Americans. Hanging over the meetings and social gatherings was the specter of FDR’s grave health—only Anna knew the truth of his heart disease—and the Russian intentions to expand into Eastern Europe. Katz effectively shows how these three often overlooked women proved to be indispensable in a variety of ways.
Engaging, multilayered history of the best kind, grounded in telling detail and marvelous personalities.