WHO: Lawrence Wright
WHAT: THIRTEEN DAYS IN SEPTEMBER:
Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David
WHEN: Published by Knopf September 16, 2014
WHERE: Camp David.
WHY: “A unique moment in history superbly captured.
“Even though the contemplated regional framework for peace collapsed, the 1978 agreement forged at Camp David between Israel and Egypt has held, a remarkable achievement in the tortured history of the Middle East, ‘where antique grudges never lose their stranglehold on the societies in their grip.’ Wright presents a day-by-day account of the tense negotiations, artfully mixing in modern and ancient history, biblical allusions, portraits of the principals—Jimmy Carter, Menachem Begin, Anwar Sadat—and thumbnail sketches of key participants: Americans Cyrus Vance and Zbigniew Brzezinski, Israelis Moshe Dayan and Ezer Weizman, and Egyptians Mohamed Ibrahim Kamel and Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
“The author examines all the forces that shaped these historic talks: the isolation imposed by the presidential retreat high in Maryland’s Catoctin Mountains; the divisions within the Egyptian and Israeli delegations; the almost unprecedented nature of detailed negotiations conducted not by subordinates but by the heads of state; the hazardous political stakes for each leader and the powerful role played by their deeply held religious beliefs; the critical part played by President Jimmy Carter, who moved adroitly from facilitator to catalyst to secure an agreement.
“Throughout, telling detail abounds: Rosalynn Carter spontaneously suggesting to her husband that the intransigents should come to the beautiful and peaceful Camp David to revive stalled talks; Begin startling his hosts on a brief outing to the Gettysburg battlefield by reciting Lincoln’s entire address from memory; Carter dramatically accusing Sadat of betrayal and, at one point, thinking to himself that Begin was a ‘psycho’; Israel’s fiercest warrior, Dayan, by then going blind, bloodying his nose by walking into a tree; Begin bursting into tears as Carter presents him with conference photos inscribed to each of the prime minister’s grandchildren.
“Yet another triumph for Wright.” —KIRKUS, a starred review
“An authoritative, fascinating, and relatively unbiased exploration of a pivotal period and a complicated subject. Meticulously researched…goes beyond the core events to address a multitude of historical factors.”
—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, a starred review
From the beginning of the book: Three men, representing three religions, met for thirteen days at the presidential retreat of Camp David in the autumn of 1978 in order to solve a dispute that religion itself had largely caused. Beliefs built on ancient texts and legends conspired to create one of the most obdurate conflicts of modern times, one that has drowned the Middle East in a timeless blood feud, brought the superpowers of the time to the brink of nuclear war, flooded the region with refugees, and spawned terrorist movements that have created mayhem and heartbreak all over the world. This book is an account of how these three flawed men, strengthened but also encumbered by their faiths, managed to forge a partial and incomplete peace, an achievement that nonetheless stands as one of the great diplomatic triumphs of the twentieth century and one that has yet to be repeated.
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Erica Hinsley | 212-572-2018 | firstname.lastname@example.org