Yalta, where the Cold War was launched

In February 1945, the Crimean resort of Yalta was the center of the Universe. There, the leaders of the Big Three–Franklin D. Roosevelt (USA), Winston Churchill (UK) and Joseph Stalin (USSR) divided Europe and set the stage for the Cold War which would not end until 1991.

Diana Preston

In Eight Days at Yalta (Grove Atlantic Press) Diana Preston has written a detailed account of the Yalta Conference. The book reads like a biography, with accounts of the health of the three leaders, Soviet infiltration of the American delegation, and the menus of the endless banquets and rivers of alcohol.

Most interesting are Preston’s account of the negotiations over of the future government of Poland, repatriation of Soviet prisoners of war, forced laborers, and defectors and reparations to be paid by Germany.

The most common analysis is that Yalta confirmed the facts on the ground, conceding Soviet influence in areas which were or were about to be conquered by the Red Army. Preston leaves unanswered the tantalizing question of what damage was called by Soviet agents Alger Hiss, Nathan Gregory Silvermaster and Harry Dexter White.

A serious read for Cold War fans.

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