by David Stone
Washington: Potomac Books, 2006. Pp. xiv, 304.
Illus., tables, maps, notes, biblio., index. $19.95. ISBN:978-1-57488-902-4
War Summits is the first comprehensive survey of the dozen or so strategy-shaping meetings of the principal Allied national leaders.
As such it gives the reader a good grounding in the strategic situation at the time of each of the conferences. It then explains the issues that had to be resolved by the participants, of whom the most important was Winston Churchill, a real globe trotter when it came to keeping in touch with his partners, FDR and Joseph Stalin: the “the Big Three” actually met only three times. The coverage also includes meetings with what might be termed the “supporting” cast, leaders of the other Allied powers who occasionally took part at least peripherally, among them Charles DeGaulle and Chaing Kai-shek, as well as Harry S Truman and Clement Atlee, who took part in the final summit, at Potsdam, in succession to FDR and Churchill.
The choice of venue is often discussed, which sometimes reveals interesting political subtleties (i.e., Stalin’s unwillingness to go anywhere not controlled by the Red Army). Then the book gets into the meat of each summit, explaining the differing perspectives of the participants, the various proposals under discussion, and the reasoning behind the final decisions, as well as providing an overview of the consequences.
Although War Summits cannot provide a highly detailed look at each of the summits, it does give even the serious student of the war an excellent overview, often with very valuable analysis.