The untold story of the three intelligent and glamorous young women who accompanied their famous fathers to the Yalta Conference in February 1945, and of the conference’s fateful reverberations in the waning days of World War II
Tensions at Yalta threatened to tear apart the wartime alliance of Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin just as victory was close at hand. Catherine Grace Katz uncovers the dramatic story of the three young women who were chosen by their fathers to travel with them to Yalta, each bound by fierce family loyalty, political savvy, and intertwined romances that powerfully colored these crucial days.
Kathleen Harriman, daughter of U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union Averell Harriman, was a war correspondent and champion skier. Sarah Churchill, an actress-turned-RAF officer, was devoted to her brilliant father, who depended on her astute political mind. Roosevelt’s only daughter, Anna, chosen instead of her mother, Eleanor, to accompany the president to Yalta, arrived there as keeper of her father’s most damaging secrets. Situated in the political maelstrom that marked the transition to the postwar world, The Daughters of Yalta is a remarkable story of fathers and daughters whose relationships were tested and strengthened by the history they witnessed and the future they crafted together.
About the Author
CATHERINE GRACE KATZ is a writer and historian from Chicago. She holds degrees in history from Harvard and Cambridge and is currently pursuing her JD at Harvard Law School.
“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, [and] 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 II’s most consequential periods of political leadership and diplomacy. Catherine Grace Katz possesses a novelist’s gift for character, and for [showing] 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—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, their confidantes, and their 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 World War II 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