The conference was a meeting of Great Britain, the U.S. and the Soviet Union, considered the "Big Three" World War II allies, to discuss strategies on Russia's Black Sea for the ending of the war and what to do with Poland and Germany.
The Daughters were Sarah Churchill, 30, who later became an actress; Kathy Harriman, 27, who lived with her dad in Moscow for several years before Yalta and spoke fluent Russian which came in handy at the conference; and Anna Roosevelt, 38, who constantly worried about her father's health. (He died two months after the conference ended.)
The book details the day-to-day (sometimes hourly) activities the trio enjoyed (or tolerated): their day trips, room arrangements, negotiations, love affairs, late nights and social hours with fine descriptions of meals including a Russian dinner which started at 9 p.m. and ended at 1 a.m., with 45 toasts, 20 courses (fried horse mackerel was one dish), 24 male guests, and Mss. Churchill, Harriman, and Roosevelt.
(The Russians always tried to outdo themselves with huge splashes of generosity, omnipresent vodka and the modernization of a Romanov palace for use as lodging at the conference.)
Kathy Harriman knew about her dad's affair with Pamela Churchill (whom he married 26 years later); Sarah Churchill knew about her sister-in-law's affair with the ambassador; Anna knew about her father's affair with Lucy Mercer, as daughter even helped arrange trysts and attempted to keep the relationship hidden from her mother, Eleanor. (Talk about mother/daughter relationships!)
The Americans and Russians expected their rooms were bugged. They were. Soviet spy Alger Hiss, a representative of the U.S. at Yalta, figures predominately in the book.
FDR worked hard to preserve his relationship with Stalin which Churchill resisted. The Americans and the British wanted to stop Russia from overtaking Poland to also serve as notice for other East European nations.
FDR worked out a secret agreement with Stalin for the Soviets to declare war in the Pacific which they did two days after the U.S. dropped the bomb on Hiroshima August 6, 1945. The Japanese surrendered August 15, 1945.
President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill both believed the conference was a success but worldwide criticism began almost immediately when it ended. French leader Charles de Gaulle was furious France was excluded from Yalta.
FDR looked exceedingly ill at the conference, and his constant smoking exacerbated his condition. When he died, Moscow honored his memory by hanging red flags with black borders throughout the city.
At the Washington History Seminar where Ms. Katz delivered her book in rapid-fire delivery last month (possibly trying to get as much in before her time expired), Allida Black, an Eleanor Roosevelt scholar and a panelist on the program asked Ms. Katz why she had mostly ignored ER in her book which Ms. Katz denied, but I have to agree with Dr. Black. Unlike the roles played by Clementine Churchill and Marie Harriman, mothers of the other two "daughters," "ER" commands little space.
Until I got going in the book, I thought (and hoped) Joseph Stalin's daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva, might be one of the main characters; nyet.
And it's hardly likely she would have been, said Serhii Plokhii, a professor of Ukrainian history at Harvard and another panelist at the WHS presentation.
At the time of the Yalta Conference, according to Dr. Plokhii, Svetlana was only19 and hardly one to be supported by her dad. Although she did speak English, she was traumatized as a teen to learn her mother had died from suicide. Svetlana had married in her teen years, and her father refused to meet the groom. It was not the best of times for father and daughter's relationship.
Neither Wikipedia nor History.com have any mention of the daughters on their Yalta pages nor does History.com list Averill Harriman.
Unfortunately, it wasn't until the end of the book that I discovered the listing of key delegates, but I found myself often using the essential map showing the lodging locations and the Black Sea and the Allies' meeting place. Thank you, author and publisher, for including!
It was difficult at times for me to keep the three women separate, and more in-depth biography about each at the beginning of the book would have helped and referencing them by whole names instead of first names only.
The book doesn't end with Yalta: Ms. Katz fills us in on the lives of the three women until their deaths; some, sad; some, happy and glamorous as is life, told in Sarah Churchill's autobiography Keep on Dancing, published in 1981, the year before she died, in Christopher Ogden's biography of Pamela Harriman, Life of the Party; and among the pages of Mother and Daughter: The Letters of Eleanor and Anna Roosevelt, edited by Bernard Asbell.
Biographies of Ms. Harriman and Ms. Roosevelt have yet to be published.
For the second Daughters' edition, I wish for photos of Clementine Churchill and Marie Harriman.