ROOSEVELT AND THE RUSSIANS by
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ROOSEVELT AND THE RUSSIANS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An essential book to better understanding of what lies behind the record of the deterioration of our relations with the Soviet, this is the then Secretary of State's clear concise and carefully documented story of the seven days of the Yalta Conference. There's a succinct review of the meetings prior to that fateful last session of the Big Three. In the deadlock over voting procedure at Dumbarton Caks lies the basic difficulty regarding the final decision at Yalta- a decision combining unanimity and veto power, a position insisted upon by the United States, and reluctantly agreed to by the Soviet Union. All in all, the compromises made by Russia were far more extensive than those made by Great Britain and the United States; Russia agreed to world organization (probably the greatest achievement of the Conference), to the limitation of Soviet Union membership to three, to the right of small nations to be heard, to military coordination for the final phase of war, to the French having an occupation zone, to an elastic definition of German Reparations, to the Declaration on Liberated Europe, to the expansion and formation of a representative Polish government. The one concession on a major issue made to Russia was the Kurile Islands deal- on which Russia's participation in the Asiatic war depended, a participation insisted upon by our military authorities. Doubtless the agreement speeded the end of the war, and made possible the United Nations. The breakdown since Yalta is due to the Soviet disregard of pledges made then, not to secret agreements made at Yalta. Stettinius is specific in his analysis of the steps leading up to the agreements, and one sees the difficulties of give and take, of a concession here, a clarification there. Stettinius is convinced that the Russians were deeply interested in world organization- but that the Politburo, after Yalta, felt that Stalin had ""sold Russia out"" in his concessions. There are various interesting sidelights on people, Hopkins, for whom he had great respect, Stalin, whose odd quirks of humor come through time and again; he speaks feelingly of the deep affection between Churchill and Roosevelt, and insists again and again on the clarity of Roosevelt's thinking throughout, his skill in handling situations fraught with danger, his role as mediator between Stalin and Churchill. Many of the minor issues- raised but not settled at Yalta are indicated. The book is an important contribution on an area of our foreign policy clouded by conflicting reports and personal bias. Perhaps not inspired in style, this document is nonetheless carefully organized, objective, readable.

Pub Date: Nov. 3rd, 1949
Publisher: Doubleday