Skillfully written and meticulously researched, it’s an extraordinary work that reveals the human side underlying the politics ... a thoroughly engrossing book, as acute about the contentious politics of the day as it is about the remarkable daughters who participated.
Katz centers the perspectives of these women in an intricately detailed history of the Yalta conference that presents its activities and negotiations from their positions on the fringes of the official business. Drawing on letters, diaries, and personal papers, she 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. Additionally, she shows how for the three daughters, like all who were touched by WWII, the conference and the war were transformative experiences. This work will appeal to readers intrigued by diplomatic history and the WWII era.3
The Daughters of Yalta is Katz’s first book, and 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 ... Light on political drama, this entertaining history is nevertheless packed with vivid personalities, jockeying aides and insider observations about a pivotal moment in history.
What if Jane Austen could write meticulous diplomatic history combined with a social portrait of American and British aristocracy? The product might resemble The Daughters of Yalta ... Not unlike the novels of Jane Austen, Katz casts a spell as she relates the twists and turns in the lives of her main characters. But her account of the Yalta Conference is as informative as it is intriguing ... Katz does not cite any Soviet sources. They would not be central to her story, but it would be interesting to know how Stalin and his entourage perceived the three sisters, one of whom—Kathleen—was said to be the best-known American woman in Russia after Eleanor Roosevelt and Deanna Durbin ... dds a human touch to the excellent but more conventional diplomatic histories by Diana Preston, Serhii Plokhii, Fraser Harbutt, and Diane Shaver Clemens.
... vivid and revealing ... Gleaning a treasure trove of details from memoirs, diaries, and letters, Katz documents poor sanitary conditions (too few bathrooms, too many bed bugs) at the ransacked summer palaces where the delegations stayed, analyzes diplomatic maneuverings, and shares plenty of spicy gossip, including Averell Harriman’s affair with Winston Churchill’s much younger daughter-in-law. This sparkling account offers a fresh take on a decisive moment in the history of WWII and the Cold War.
... a substantive debut work of first-rate scholarship ... 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 ... 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.