‘The strong do what they can. The weak suffer what they must.’ Thucydides’ principle expresses an uncomfortable truth. The eight-day meeting between Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill at Yalta in the Crimea in February 1945 settled the fate of Eastern Europe and beyond. Its effects are still with us. President George W. Bush compared it with the way Britain, France and the Soviet Union sold out to Hitler before the war began: he called it ‘one of the greatest wrongs of history’. ‘Yalta’, like ‘Munich’, has become a synonym for the cynical betrayal of the weak by the strong. It is an oft-told, well-documented and controversial story. Diana Preston retells it fluently, perceptively and with meticulous scholarship. Her judgments are admirably sensible.