Thirteen Days in outlet online sale September: Carter, outlet sale Begin, and Sadat at Camp David sale

Thirteen Days in outlet online sale September: Carter, outlet sale Begin, and Sadat at Camp David sale

Thirteen Days in outlet online sale September: Carter, outlet sale Begin, and Sadat at Camp David sale
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ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW’ S 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR

A gripping day-by-day account of the 1978 Camp David conference, when President Jimmy Carter persuaded Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian president Anwar Sadat to sign the first peace treaty in the modern Middle East, one which endures to this day.

With his hallmark insight into the forces at play in the Middle East and his acclaimed journalistic skill, Lawrence Wright takes us through each of the thirteen days of the Camp David conference, illuminating the issues that have made the problems of the region so intractable, as well as exploring the scriptural narratives that continue to frame the conflict. In addition to his in-depth accounts of the lives of the three leaders, Wright draws vivid portraits of other fiery personalities who were present at Camp David––including Moshe Dayan, Osama el-Baz, and Zbigniew Brzezinski––as they work furiously behind the scenes. Wright also explores the significant role played by Rosalynn Carter.
What emerges is a riveting view of the making of this unexpected and so far unprecedented peace. Wright exhibits the full extent of Carter’s persistence in pushing an agreement forward, the extraordinary way in which the participants at the conference—many of them lifelong enemies—attained it, and the profound difficulties inherent in the process and its outcome, not the least of which has been the still unsettled struggle between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

In Thirteen Days in September, Wright gives us a resonant work of history and reportage that provides both a timely revisiting of this important diplomatic triumph and an inside look at how peace is made.

Review

Praise for Thirteen Days in September

One of the New York Times Top Ten Best Books of the Year

“A magnificent book [from] one of our finest nonfiction writers. . . . In his minute-by-minute account of the talks Wright intersperses a concise history of Egyptian-Israeli relations dating from the story of Exodus.   Even more important is Wright''s understanding that Sadat, Begin and Carter were not just political leaders, but exemplars of the Holy Land''s three internecine religious traditions."--Joe Klein, New York Times Book Review, front page

“An engrossing chronicle of Carter’s marathon peace negotiations with Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat at Camp David . . . an illuminating view of a vital event that has been all but forgotten—and of a single-minded, even messianic president whose White House years have been denigrated and discredited . . .  In examining the three, Wright is both fascinated and fair-minded, seeing men of faith and fortitude, and ultimately of vision, with stark similarities and even starker differences. . . . A wonderful book.”—David M. Shribman , Boston Globe
 
“A psychologically astute and lively history of the Arab-Israeli conflict told through the lens of the negotiations that brought one of its most bitter and bloody chapters to an end.”—Samuel Thrope, Haaretz

“One of the many merits of Wright’s book is to demonstrate, at a moment when the Israeli–Palestinian conflict looks more intractable than ever, how unswerving commitment allied to imagination and boldness can make something of nothing. The sine qua non, however, is political courage, an almost forgotten commodity.”––Roger Cohen, The New York Review of Books

“It is brilliant penetrating scholarship. . . . Wright expertly captures every move of the three-way realpolitik chess match.   By using each man''s biography to illuminate the history of his respective nation, he not only chronicles Camp David but elucidates the issues that continue to plague the Middle East.”––Jeff Labrecque, Entertainment Weekly
 
“Exceedingly balanced, highly readable, and appropriately sober.”––Hector Tobar, Los Angeles Times
 
“A unique moment in history superbly captured .  . . a day-by-day account of the tense negotiations that shaped these historic talks . . .  Yet another triumph for Wright.”–– Kirkus Reviews, starred review
 
“Meticulously researched . . . almost nail-bitingly tense . . . an authoritative, fascinating, and relatively unbiased exploration of a pivotal period and a complicated subject.”–– Publishers Weekly, starred review
 
“In fine sketches of the personalities — not just Carter, Sadat, and Begin, but their eccentric minions — Wright shows just how difficult it was to achieve a lasting truce, and makes old news only more relevant in a region where something new happens every day but nothing really changes.”—Boris Kachka, Vulture.com
 
“The best part of Thirteen Days in September—edging out even its breakneck pace and utterly confident narrative style—is Wright’s almost Plutarchian skill at character sketches.”––Steve Donaghue, Open Letters Monthly Literature Review.
 
“Fascinating personal and historic detail.”–– Christian Science Monitor

“A splendid and suspenseful account of the Camp David negotiations.”––Vince Camuto, Minneapolis Star/Tribune
 
“Spellbinding . . . A cliffhanger . . . What makes the story a page-turner isn’t the day-by-day details of the negotiations. It’s Wright’s seamless, compelling backgrounding of the region’s violent history, the enmities and peculiarities of the players who came to the remote presidential retreat in the Maryland mountains to reach a monumental, if flawed, accord that endures to this day.”—Ellen Warren, The Chicago Tribune
 
“Mr. Wright displays a sensitive understanding of the region and a fine pen as he sketches in the characters and motivations of the three main players.”— The Economist

“A chronicle of diplomatic success . . . The heart of the book is the daily, sometimes hourly shifts in tactics and postures, stands and counterstands, that unfolded over 13 days in 1978.”––Earl Pike, Cleveland Plain Dealer
 
 
 
 



About the Author

Lawrence Wright is a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of six previous books of nonfiction, including In the New World, Remembering Satan, The Looming Tower, Going Clear, and one novel, God’s Favorite. His books have received many prizes and honors, including a Pulitzer Prize for The Looming Tower. He is also a playwright and screenwriter. He and his wife are longtime residents of Austin, Texas.

www.lawrencewright.com

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Late one night in a rustic lodge on the edge of Jackson Lake, in the Grand Teton National Park, Jimmy Carter took a break from his vacation to open a thick briefing book compiled for him by the Cen- tral Intelligence Agency. He had spent one last glorious day, August 29, 1978, fly-fishing on the Snake River, horseback riding through the park, and picking huckleberries with his daughter, Amy, which went into an after-dinner pie. It was a brief escape from the tumult of Washington and his weakened and unpopular presidency. The briefing book contained psychological profiles of two leaders, Anwar Sadat, the president of Egypt, and Menachem Begin, the prime minister of Israel, who would be coming to America in a few days with the unlikely goal of making peace in the Middle East. The ways in which Carter would relate to these leaders—and they to each other—would determine the success or failure of this historic gamble.

………….

The profiles Carter was studying in Wyoming came from a meeting he had at the CIA a few weeks earlier. He had directed the analysts to answer a number of questions about Begin and Sadat:

What made them leaders? What was the original root of their ambition?
What were their goals?
What previous events had shaped their characters?
What were their religious beliefs? Were they sincere?
Who was important to them? What were their family relations?
How was their health?
What promises and obligations had they made?
How did they react under pressure?
What were their strengths and weaknesses?
What were their attitudes toward the U.S. and Carter personally?
What did they think of each other?
Whom did they trust, especially within their delegations?

The resulting profiles of Begin and Sadat drew sharply opposing por- traits. Sadat was a visionary—bold, reckless, and willing to be flexible as long as he believed his overall goals were being achieved. He saw himself as a grand strategic thinker blazing like a comet through the skies of history. The CIA noted his penchant for publicity, terming it his “Barbara Walters Syndrome,” after the famous television personality, but by the time the profile was prepared for Carter that category had been upgraded to Sadat’s “Nobel Prize Complex.” Begin, on the other hand, was secretive, legalistic, and leery of radical change. History, for Begin, was a box full of tragedy; one shouldn’t expect to open it with- out remorse. When put under stress, Sadat drifted into generalities and Begin clung to minutiae. Clashes and misunderstandings were bound to occur. There was some doubt among the analysts preparing the dossiers whether two such opposing personalities should ever be put into the same room together. The two leaders seemed alike only in unpromising ways. Both men had blood on their hands. They had each spent long stretches in prison and in hiding and were deeply schooled in conspiracy. They were not the kind of men Carter had ever known before.

Carter believed he instinctively understood Sadat, however, even though they came from distant cultures. Part of their bond was the fact that they had both been farmers. As a boy, Carter had plowed the red clay of southwest Georgia behind a mule, feeling the damp cool of the freshly turned earth between his toes. He was struck by the observation that Jesus and Moses would have felt at home on a farm in the Deep South during the first part of the twentieth century. Around the globe but on the same meridian as Plains, Georgia, there is a village of mud huts in Egypt called Mit Abul Kum, where Sadat spent his early years. Farmers in the black alluvial soil of the Nile Delta irrigated their fields using an Archimedes screw, which the Greek sage reputedly invented when he visited Egypt in the third century BCE. One could see painted in the tombs of the pharaohs scenes of village life that were still being lived three thousand years later.

Changelessness is the essential feature of such rural childhoods—a feeling of being cocooned, at once protected and entrapped. And yet, even as a child, a dark-skinned peasant from a small village in the Nile Delta, Sadat sensed his unique role in Egyptian society. Once, when he was playing with some other children near an irrigation canal, they jumped into the water and Anwar leaped in after them. Only then did he remember that he couldn’t swim. He thought, “If I drown, Egypt will have lost Anwar Sadat!”

Although he rarely talked about his race, Sadat was only two gen- erations away from slavery—his maternal grandfather, an African man called Kheirallah, had been brought as a slave to Egypt and was eman- cipated only after the British occupiers demanded the practice be abol- ished. Kheirallah’s daughter, Sitt el-Barrein (woman of two banks), was also a black African. She was chosen as a wife for Mohamed el-Sadaty, an interpreter for a British medical group.* She covered herself in traditional black clothing, with long sleeves and a skirt that reached the floor. She was Mohamed’s sixth wife; the first five bore him no children, so he divorced them one after another. Sitt el-Barrein would bear him three sons and a daughter. Anwar was her second child.

The racial dynamics in the Sadaty family were highly charged, as they were in Egyptian society as a whole. Mohamed el-Sadaty’s mother, called by custom Umm Mohamed (mother of Mohamed), was an over- bearing figure who had arranged the match with Sitt el-Barrein. It’s a bit of a mystery why she made such a choice, since Umm Mohamed was of Turkish lineage, with fair features, and she despised her dark-skinned daughter-in-law. Mohamed inherited his mother’s Turkish features; he had blue eyes and blond hair. In Islam, a man is permitted four wives at a time, and Mohamed would eventually marry twice more when the family moved to Cairo. In addition to his three wives and his formidable mother, Mohamed’s vast household grew to thirteen children. Sitt el- Barrein occupied the lowliest place because of her race. She was little more than a maid, occasionally beaten by her husband in front of her children. Sadat rarely spoke of her.

It was his grandmother, Umm Mohamed, the strongest figure in the family, who made the biggest impression on Sadat. “How I loved that woman!” he recalls in his autobiography. She was illiterate, but she insisted that her children and grandchildren become educated. Anwar often spent summers in Umm Mohamed’s mud-walled hut in Mit Abul Kum, where her influence was unequivocal. From an early age he began to imagine himself as a figure of destiny, his imagination fired by the stories his grandmother would tell.

His favorite was the legend of Zahran. It is a tale of martyrdom. In June 1906, several years before Anwar was born, a party of British soldiers was pigeon hunting in a nearby village called Denshawi. They shot some domesticated fowl, infuriating the villagers. Total chaos followed. One of the soldiers accidentally shot and wounded the wife of the local imam. The villagers responded with a hail of stones. The soldiers fired into the mob, injuring five people. A local silo caught on fire, perhaps because of a stray bullet. Two soldiers raced back to camp to get help, but the other members of the hunting party surrendered to the villagers. One soldier who escaped died of sunstroke in the intense heat, although he may also have suffered a concussion from the stoning. British soldiers who came to the rescue killed an elderly peasant who was trying to assist the dying man, wrongly assuming that he had murdered their comrade. The British occupiers decided to make an example of Denshawi. Fifty- two villagers were rounded up and quickly brought before a tribunal. Most of the villagers were flogged or sentenced to long prison sentences. Four were hanged.

This confused and tragic incident marked a turning point in the British occupation, inflaming nationalist sentiments in Egypt and stir- ring outrage even in Great Britain. Denshawi became a byword for the inevitable clumsy by-products of imperialism. No one embodied the face of Denshawi more than the young man named Zahran, the first of the condemned to be hanged. According to the oral ballad that Sadat’s grandmother told to him, Zahran was the son of a dark mother and a father of mixed blood—just like Anwar. “The ballad dwells on Zahran’s courage and doggedness in the battle, how he walked with his head high to the scaffold, feeling proud that he had stood up to the aggressors and killed one of them,” Sadat writes. He heard this legend night after night, and it worked its way deep into his imagination. “I often saw Zahran,” he writes, “and lived his heroism in dream and reverie—I wished I were Zahran.”

It was in Cairo that Anwar first actually encountered the hated occupiers. He recalls “the odious sight of the typical British constable on his motorcycle, tearing through the city streets day and night like a madman—with a tomato-colored complexion, bulging eyes, and an open mouth—looking like an idiot, with his huge head covered in a long crimson fez reaching down to his ears. Everybody feared him. I simply hated the sight of him.”

In 1931, when Anwar was twelve, Mahatma Gandhi passed through the Suez Canal on his way to London to negotiate the fate of India. The ship stopped in Port Said, whereupon Egyptian journalists besieged the ascetic leader. The correspondent for Al-Ahram marveled that Gandhi was wearing “nothing but a scrap of cloth worth five piasters, wire rim glasses worth three piasters and the simplest thong sandals worth a mere two piasters. These ten piasters of clothing tell Great Britain volumes.” The example of this poor, dark-skinned man who turned the empire upside-down made a deep impression on the young Sadat. “I began to imitate him,” he writes. “I took off all my clothes, covered myself from the waist down with an apron, made myself a spindle, and withdrew to a solitary nook on the roof of our house in Cairo. I stayed there for a few days until my father persuaded me to give it up. What I was doing would not, he argued, benefit me or Egypt; on the contrary, it would certainly have given me pneumonia.” Sadat’s obsession with great men must have seemed comical, especially when he imitated Gandhi by sitting under a tree, pretending he didn’t want to eat, or dressing in an apron and leading a goat. He was consciously shopping for the qualities of greatness, trying on attributes and opinions. It wasn’t just Gandhi’s asceticism that appealed to him; he was drawn to the autocratic side of Gandhi’s nature, which favored action over deliberation and cared nothing for consensus.

Despite Sadat’s hatred of the British, it was through an English doctor who knew Sadat’s father that he was able to enter the Royal Military Academy. Sadat was rescued from the menial destiny he had been born to. The academy had been the exclusive province of the Egyptian aristocracy until 1936, when the British allowed the Egyptian Army to expand. During this period, Sadat read books on the Turkish Revolution and became increasingly devoted to Kemal Atatürk, the creator of modern Turkey. Sadat was already beginning to see himself as a trans- formational figure whose iron will would rearrange his society into a new paradigm. In that way, he and Begin were much alike.

Paradoxically, those were the same qualities that drew him to Hitler. “I was in our village for the summer vacation when Hitler marched forth from Munich to Berlin, to wipe out the consequences of Germany’s defeat in World War I and rebuild his country,” Sadat recounts. “I gathered my friends and told them we ought to follow Hitler’s example by marching forth from Mit Abul Kum to Cairo. I was twelve. They laughed and ran away.” Two decades later, after Germany was in ruins and sixty million people were dead, Sadat and other prominent Egyptians were asked by a Cairo magazine to write a letter to Hitler as if he were still alive. “My Dear Hitler,” Sadat wrote,

I admire you from the bottom of my heart. Even if you appear to have been defeated, in reality you are the victor. You have succeeded in creating dissension between the old man Churchill and his allies, the sons of Satan. . . . Germany will be reborn in spite of the Western and Eastern powers. . . . You did some mistakes . . . but our faith in your nation has more than compensated for them. You must be proud to have become an immortal leader of Germany. We will not be surprised if you showed up anew in Germany or if a new Hitler should rise to replace you.

Excerpted from THIRTEEN DAYS IN SEPTEMBER by Lawrence Wright. Copyright © 2014 by Lawrence Wright. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Page Turner
Reviewed in the United States on January 16, 2020
This was a great book. In the late 70s I was a young teen. I used to come home from school and wait for the evening news before doing homework. I loved the newspapers too. Of course at that young age I didn''t really have a full understanding of the events but I knew they... See more
This was a great book. In the late 70s I was a young teen. I used to come home from school and wait for the evening news before doing homework. I loved the newspapers too. Of course at that young age I didn''t really have a full understanding of the events but I knew they were important. Over the years I have loved to read in depth about significant and historical events. This book was amazing and the best part was learning more about the geographics, actions and key players involved. Jimmy Carter''s presidency failed miserably overall and ultimately there was no lasting peace in the Middle East as the conflicts in that region are still raging 40 years later. What was impressive about the Camp David Accord was how committed the President was to working toward a lasting peace. As this book illustrates, the human element and difficult personalities were some of the biggest obstacles. Learning about Anwar Sadat, Menachem Begin and Moshe Dayan was fascinating. All these people I heard about on radio and saw on TV I now know so much more about. This book was great and I highly recommend it.
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Hosting International Conferences 101: The Case of Camp David
Reviewed in the United States on October 18, 2015
Camp David has become a shorthand for the summit that President Jimmy Carter convened in September 1978 between President Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel. Likewise, achieving a Camp David agreement has become synonymous with overcoming... See more
Camp David has become a shorthand for the summit that President Jimmy Carter convened in September 1978 between President Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel. Likewise, achieving a Camp David agreement has become synonymous with overcoming initial differences and reconciling opposing viewpoints through the sheer force of mediation and negotiation. Thirteen Days in September explains why this expression became reality. I am reviewing Lawrence Wright’s book as part of a series on diplomatic negotiations, looking for clues on how to organize international conferences (see my previous entries here and here). This book doesn’t deal with the form of the Camp David summit but with its substance: it is a kind of a Getting to Yes book, a How to Deal With Difficult People compendium, or a rewrite of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. This being say, Thirteen Days in September does not take the form of a case manual or a diplomatic textbook. It doesn’t draw general lessons, and doesn’t refer to other, Camp David-like experiences. A how to book or a self-help manual it certainly isn’t.

In fact, such a how-to book on negotiations already exists, and it was directly inspired by the Camp David episode. In the run-up to the summit, Cyrus Vance, himself a trained negotiator, asked his Harvard colleague Roger Fisher if he had any suggestion on how to handle the meeting’s dynamics. Fisher produced his last book, titled International Mediation: A Working Guide for the Practitioner, which he later transformed into a bestseller on negotiation techniques, Getting to YES, co-authored with William Ury. Members of the Harvard Negotiation Project, Fisher and Ury focused on the psychology of negotiation in their method, "principled negotiation," finding acceptable solutions by determining which needs are fixed and which are flexible for negotiators. Giving such advice as “separate the people from the problem”, “focus on interests, not positions”, “invent options for mutual gain" and ”know your BATNA (Best Alternative To Negotiated Agreement)”, they insisted on trade-offs and mutual gains, on bargaining and win-win solutions.

Negotiation theory assumes rational actors advancing their country’s national interest in an orderly fashion. But there was nothing rational about the actors at Camp David. They were full-blooded individuals, moved by passions and hatred, deeply held beliefs and sympathy. There even was a touch of insanity hanging in the air. Begin has had frequent bouts of depression and was constantly oscillating between exhilaration and despair. Sadat was unpredictable and was capable of strokes of genius as well as unmovable stubbornness. Even Carter, the cold-blooded engineer who liked to divide every problem into solvable parts, sometimes lost his temper and yelled at his guests in exasperated fashion. But perhaps the most deranged individual was the Egyptian delegate Hassan el-Tohamy, “a former intelligence agent who also functioned as Sadat’s astrologer, court jester, and spiritual guru.” According to Sadat, this Sufi mystic “had something godly in him and he could see the unknown.” He wold stand up at a dinner party and greet the Prophet Muhammad as if his ghost were physically present in the room. He constantly reported prophetic dreams or conversations he just had with angels. “We all thought he was mad,” Boutros-Ghali recalled. Worse, he would make erroneous reports to the leader, pretending an agreement to withdraw from occupied territories was at hand when in fact there was none. “It is entirely possible that the Middle East peace process was set in motion by the misunderstanding of a madman,” writes the author.

Not only were there madmen in attendance: there were also terrorists at the table. As the saying goes, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, or a future head of state for that matter. As the author records, both Sadat and Begin had committed terrorist acts against the British in their struggle for national independence. In the words of Wright, “they both had blood on their hands”—although it is not clear whether they themselves carried arms and planted bombs as opposed to masterminding attacks and terror acts. They had also spent long stretches in prison and in clandestinity, and were deeply schooled in the art of conspiracy. Begin, in particular, is portrayed as a political outcast who would had remained in the fringe of Israeli politics had he not been put center stage by the 1973 war launched by Sadat. “Many Israelis considered him a crank, a fascist, or just an embarrassing reminder of the terrorist underground that stained the legend of the country’s glorious struggle for independence.” Even Wright opines that “the transformation of terrorism as a primarily local phenomenon into a global one came about in large part because of the success of [Begin''s] tactics. He proved that, under the right circumstances, terror works. Many years later, American forces would find a copy of Begin''s memoir "The Revolt" in the library of an al-Qaeda training camp. Osama bin Laden read Begin in an attempt to understand how a terrorist transformed himself into a statesman.”

The author frames the stakes raised by the threesome meeting in religious terms. Witness the opening sentence of the book: “Three men, representing three religions, met for thirteen days at the presidential retreat of Camp David in order to solve a dispute that religion itself had largely caused.” And Wright adds: “The struggle for peace at Camp David is a testament to the enduring force of religion in modern life, as seen in its ability to mold history and in the difficulty of shedding the mythologies that continue to lure societies into conflict.” But contrary to what Wright writes, these three men did not “represent” their religion in any way; nor did religion cause the Middle East quagmire—politics did. This being said, it is true that religion added a complex dimension to the negotiation at Camp David. Jimmy Carter, the Southern Baptist preacher, taught Sunday school every weekend from the age of eighteen on. As Wright reminds us, “he had studied the Bible when he was a child, and the geography of ancient Palestine was more familiar to him than that of most of the United States.” His decision to convene the summit despite the warning of his advisers and against his own political interest was religious in essence: “he had come to believe that God wanted him to bring peace” to the Middle East.” In the book, he is often caught praying, while Sadat, also a deeply religious person, is portrayed as enjoying his nightcap of whisky.

As Kissinger once remarked, “great men are so rare that they take some time getting used to.” The great foreign policy expert certainly took some time getting to Sadat: his first impression of the Egyptian president had been of “a buffoon, am operatic figure.” But after the Yom Kippur war Kissinger came to recognize Nasser’s instinctive genius for the bold stroke that could change history. Sadat had stunned Egypt by disposing of Nasser’s corrupt cronies and sending them to jail; then by expelling Soviet military advisers and reversing alliance to shift toward the US. He had then stunned the world by launching the Yom Kippur war in October 1973, the first time Arab armies were capable of inflicting serious losses to the Israelis on the battlefield; then by agreeing on a ceasefire while the Great Powers were on the brink of armed confrontation. His most stunning stroke of genius was his surprise visit to Israel and his speech at the Knesset. In political linguo, the unexpected visit of a statesman that turns the tables towards peaceful coexistence is called a “Nixon in China” moment. In all rigor, one should coin the adage that it takes a Sadat to talk to the Knesset. His speech was a mastery of rightful eloquence and uncompromising prose. Witness the opening: “Let me tell you without the slightest hesitation that I have not come to you under this dome to make a request that your troops evacuate the occupied territories. Complete withdrawal from the Arab territories occupied after 1967 is a logical and undisputed necessity. Nobody should plead for that.”

Nasser’s insistence on “complete withdrawal from these territories, including Arab Jerusalem,” stands in stark contrast to Begin’s uncompromising stance on the issue: “the West Bank, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip, and Sinai are all ours,” was how is basic position could be summed up. During the discussions, he refused to even utter the name “Palestinians” for the reason that “Jews are also Palestinians.” He persisted in calling the West Bank by its biblical names, Judea and Samaria, appealing to Carter’s knowledge of the Scriptures to underline the claim that “God had given the land to its Chosen People.” He turned to rhetoric to point out that the formula “legitimate rights” is a pleonasm: either a right is legitimate, or it is not a right. At the end point, the summit came down to a single issue: the evacuation of the Sinai settlements, where Begin had vowed to spend his retirement. All his arguments were justified by the goal of maintaining the security of Israel: “Sinai had been a historic concourse for attacking armies; the Golan Heights had been the dominating redoubt for Syrian artillery; the West Bank was a hideout for terrorists. Why surrender any of it?” Ignored in this reasoning, of course, were “the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people,” a formula Begin wouldn’t even begin to hear.

I mentioned by way of introduction that Camp David has become a generic expression. But the Camp David peace talks were a very specific event, one that doesn’t lend itself to generalizations or applicable lessons. The main figures didn’t play by the rule or apply a textbook approach to negotiation. They each came to the negotiating table with their own idiosyncrasies and personal histories. Carter thought he was on a mission from God and that, once they saw each other’s soul, his two guests would agree on a workable solution, with himself cast in the role of the facilitator. That illusion shattered within minutes of the first meeting of the three men. So Carter had to change his role to that of the coercer, someone who was willing to go beyond pleading and persuading to the point of issuing credible threats. The main threat, which was used repeatedly by the three men, was to leave Camp David and let the negotiation end inconclusively. But each character knew this would entail an enormous price, on a personal basis and at the level of their nation as well. Camp David also shows that, in the words of Boutros-Ghali, negotiating was more than sitting around a table: “it was also a dialogue away from the table.” The most meaningful exchange occurred on Day Six during a visit to the nearby Gettysburg National Military Park. Here the words of Abraham Lincoln echoed in each leaders’ mind, and reminded them of the enormous price wars extracted from nations.

Lawrence Wright, the author of Thirteen Days in September, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who specializes in international relations and Middle East issues. He doesn’t express his opinions directly in the book, and never uses the word “I”. Some readers will try to guess his politics however, and may find him heavily biased against Menachem Begin. This negative bias may be due to the sources that he collected: memoirs, personal diaries, recollections, and interviews with key officials from the Carter administration as well as from Israel and—less so—from Egypt. Begin had few friends, even in his own camp, and his career after Camp David went downhill. Carter portrays him negatively in his diaries and in his memoirs. But in my opinion, if Wright has a bias, it may be due to his profession as a journalist and in his cultural background a an American. He adopts a can-do attitude attuned to Carter’s engineer mindset; he downplays the tragic dimension of life and the role of fate in conducting our destinies; despite his multiculturalist efforts, his misunderstanding of Islam stands in stark contrast to his familiarity with the Judeo-christian tradition; his taste for portraits and psychological analysis draws its tropes from US government’s use of profiling that was exposed to the public during the WikiLeak scandal ; and his narrative mixing three strands of time seems straight out of an American novel. In other words, this is a piece of American journalism: other chroniclers steeped in a different professional or cultural tradition may have provided a very different narrative.
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M. A. Devlin
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
I wasn''t sure if I would enjoy it as much as some of his other books ...
Reviewed in the United States on September 18, 2016
Being a fan of Lawrence Wright''s takes on multiple religious from Scientology in Going Clear to Al Qaeda in Looming Tower when this came out it was a must buy for me. I wasn''t sure if I would enjoy it as much as some of his other books but was more than pleasantly... See more
Being a fan of Lawrence Wright''s takes on multiple religious from Scientology in Going Clear to Al Qaeda in Looming Tower when this came out it was a must buy for me. I wasn''t sure if I would enjoy it as much as some of his other books but was more than pleasantly surprised. It is his best book to date. It is a page turner. He describes the various personalities involved: not just those directly involved in the talks but members of both entourages that attend. We read about how Carter chooses Camp David so those involved in the talks will dress down and take advange of all the amenities at the wilderness location, some more than others.

There are multiple instances of members of each government ''sneaking'' into the another member of the opponents group. One discussion while on bicycles describes this in a brilliant example. We learn about mistakes from nearly if not by every member including the United States President Jimmy Carter. Only a researcher of Wright''s caliber would be able to pull out these examples by interviewing almost every single person alive who was involved in the Egypt-Israeli Peace Accords.
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DJ 815
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Read this Book.
Reviewed in the United States on September 23, 2015
This book is a comprehensive fast paced description of the Camp David peace summit but is so much more than that. After reading this book I not only had a deep understanding of these three leaders (and new views on Sadat and Begin from what my prior impressions were) but... See more
This book is a comprehensive fast paced description of the Camp David peace summit but is so much more than that. After reading this book I not only had a deep understanding of these three leaders (and new views on Sadat and Begin from what my prior impressions were) but also a new understanding of the history of the creation of Israel. The juxtaposition of the talks with historical commentary was very effective. This guy is a consummate researcher and writer. Some may feel the book is somewhat biased but read for yourself and see. This is a fascinating story of international diplomacy. Highly recommended.
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R. Landau
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Thorough, eye opening and relevant for today
Reviewed in the United States on March 13, 2015
A remarkable book in which the lives of each of the primary negotiators, President Carter, president Sadat and Prime Minister Begin, are thoroughly researched. We learn about their strength, about their weaknesses, about their humanity. We learn about their hopes and... See more
A remarkable book in which the lives of each of the primary negotiators, President Carter, president
Sadat and Prime Minister Begin, are thoroughly researched. We learn about their strength, about their weaknesses, about their humanity. We learn about their hopes and aspirations, about all of the factors that they need to consider in coming to an agreement. We participate in the stress and anxiety, and the camaraderie on the one hand and the differences on the other. We learn about the history of not only the leaders but of the countries that they represent. We learn about their staff, and the roles they played in the negotiations. Above all we realize how complex such negotiations are. I find it helps me to understand the complexity of the issues facing our government and the world today. This is a book that tells us not only what and how it happened, but provides us with an eye-opening learning experience.
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Garima Mathur
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Fascinating "inside story" of high-stakes Middle East peacemaking
Reviewed in the United States on October 6, 2014
What do heads of state and their top advisors really say to one another behind closed doors in high-stakes peacemaking? What do you do when 70% of the obstacles to peace are psychological? I wonder about some of the purported conversation but Lawrence Wright has... See more
What do heads of state and their top advisors really say to one another behind closed doors in high-stakes peacemaking? What do you do when 70% of the obstacles to peace are psychological?

I wonder about some of the purported conversation but Lawrence Wright has certainly done his homework. One learns a great deal from this book. Unlike other reviewers, I would say this book is quite objective. If anything, it is not biased but simply incomplete in some respects. Carter was not the first American to forge a type of peace between Israel and its neighbors. In 1949, American Ralph Bunche, serving as a mediator for the UN, forged an armistice between Israel and Egypt over 6 weeks while on the Greek island of Rhodes. Bunche was appointed mediator after the first mediator Count Bernadotte was assassinated at point blank range by the Stern Gang. Neither Bunche nor Bernadotte are mentioned and they really should be.

Although there was no jubilation on Day 13 of Camp David, the fact is that 36 years later, peace between Israel and Egypt still stands. Credit goes to many parties, including advisers to Begin. There is really something to be said for meeting 13 days straight and practically wearing one another down. I thought this was an outstanding day-to-day recounting of that ordeal.
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Mike D., La Jolla
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Far Better than the Title would Suggest
Reviewed in the United States on November 20, 2014
Remembering how much I enjoyed "The Looming Tower" , my wife recommended this book to me. When it was described to me, I worried that it might be so what boring because of the subject matter. After all, this is ostensibly about 3 men hammering out a peace treaty... See more
Remembering how much I enjoyed "The Looming Tower" , my wife recommended this book to me. When it was described to me, I worried that it might be so what boring because of the subject matter. After all, this is ostensibly about 3 men hammering out a peace treaty at Camp David. Instead, Mr. Wright turns the underlying narrative into a compelling and fascinating tale of how three men and three cultures forged a historic peace treaty, albeit an imperfect one. The day-to-day events at Cam David don''t lend themselves to page-turning reading. Rather it is the way in which Wright weaves in the history of both cultures, and the wars they fought that makes this bookmark great one. Equally interesting was the study of each man''s character and how history forged their belief system. Make no mistake that this book paints a rather unflattering picture of Begin, and a far more sympathetic one of Sadat. Wright emphasizes the specious biblical claims that the dark-mooded Begin makes for his expansionist ambitions. When I completed the book, I wondered if some Israelis would find the book anti-Semitic or at least unsympathetic to the Zionist cause. According to some reviews I have read, that is indeed the case. I do fault Wright for not emphasizing and the holocaust as the formative event of what Begin calls "the fighting Jew". By not emphasizing it as much as the faulted Old Testament claims, Wright gives the impression that he''s more interested in undermining the Zionist cause rather than legitimizing it. Also, the book covers more of the military excesses by the IDF than the abhorrent terrorist responses by the PLO. It''s pretty clear that the author simply doesn''t like Begin and perhaps for legitimate reasons. However traumatized he was as a boy by the Holocaust, his actions and beliefs are unjustifiable and hypocritical to Wright. At least, that was my impression. Regardless of the underlying tone of the book as it pertains to the Zionist cause, Wright''s latest work makes for fascinating and compelling reading.
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charles edmonds
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
War or Peace--take your pick!
Reviewed in the United States on June 8, 2015
13 days and 30 plus years later there is still peace between Egypt and Israel. How come? Read the book to find a fascinating account of President Carter''s attempt to bring peace to the middle east. The best part of the book is the very detailed bios of the three main... See more
13 days and 30 plus years later there is still peace between Egypt and Israel. How come? Read the book to find a fascinating account of President Carter''s attempt to bring peace to the middle east. The best part of the book is the very detailed bios of the three main leaders and the support staff for each leader. This book is excellent for those Americans who are 40ish or young to understand the historical background of Arabs and Jews who lived during the post WWII era in the Middle East. An era of immense hatred and bloodshed.
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spanish teader
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Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 17, 2015
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a gift
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Leslie
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Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 2, 2016
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CB
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Ein Klassiker der Nahostverhandlungen
Reviewed in Germany on October 3, 2018
"Thirteen Days in September" schildert die Verhandlungen, die vor 40 Jahren zum Friedensabkommen zwischen Israel und Ägypten geführt haben. Der Autor rekonstruiert anschaulich und plausibel die relevanten Personen, Themen und Gespräche. Rückblenden und Ellipsen liefern dazu...See more
"Thirteen Days in September" schildert die Verhandlungen, die vor 40 Jahren zum Friedensabkommen zwischen Israel und Ägypten geführt haben. Der Autor rekonstruiert anschaulich und plausibel die relevanten Personen, Themen und Gespräche. Rückblenden und Ellipsen liefern dazu Hintergrundinformationen. Das Buch ist unter zwei Aspekten sehr lesenswert: Erstens behandelt es eine der wichtigsten Verhandlungen und die zentralen Endstatusthemen einer Zweistaatenlösung für den Nahen Osten, und zweitens gibt es Einblicke in Interaktionen und Verhandlungstechnik auf Ebene von Staats- und Regierungschefs. Das Buch ist gut geschrieben und eher eine Freude als eine Pflichtlektüre. Zur Ergänzung: Die Handlung wurde in Episode 1 Staffel 6 ("N.S.F. Thurmont", 2010) der Fernsehserie "The West Wing" verfilmt.
"Thirteen Days in September" schildert die Verhandlungen, die vor 40 Jahren zum Friedensabkommen zwischen Israel und Ägypten geführt haben. Der Autor rekonstruiert anschaulich und plausibel die relevanten Personen, Themen und Gespräche. Rückblenden und Ellipsen liefern dazu Hintergrundinformationen. Das Buch ist unter zwei Aspekten sehr lesenswert: Erstens behandelt es eine der wichtigsten Verhandlungen und die zentralen Endstatusthemen einer Zweistaatenlösung für den Nahen Osten, und zweitens gibt es Einblicke in Interaktionen und Verhandlungstechnik auf Ebene von Staats- und Regierungschefs. Das Buch ist gut geschrieben und eher eine Freude als eine Pflichtlektüre. Zur Ergänzung: Die Handlung wurde in Episode 1 Staffel 6 ("N.S.F. Thurmont", 2010) der Fernsehserie "The West Wing" verfilmt.
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Rafiki
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A must read!
Reviewed in Canada on January 16, 2016
This very well researched and written book is a must read for all political junkies and those who want to learn what goes on behind the scene in complex international matters. The book exposes duplicities and intricate political manoevering at the highest levels of...See more
This very well researched and written book is a must read for all political junkies and those who want to learn what goes on behind the scene in complex international matters. The book exposes duplicities and intricate political manoevering at the highest levels of governments. I just couldn''t put it down and didn''t want the book to end. Kudos to Lawrence Wright for his work!
This very well researched and written book is a must read for all political junkies and those who want to learn what goes on behind the scene in complex international matters. The book exposes duplicities and intricate political manoevering at the highest levels of governments. I just couldn''t put it down and didn''t want the book to end. Kudos to Lawrence Wright for his work!
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Luiz Augusto Módolo de Paula
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Belo relato sobre resolução de conflitos - Beatiful tale about conflict resolution
Reviewed in Brazil on July 10, 2019
Excelente relato de como resolver conflitos, recomendo! - Beatiful tale about conflict resolution, from the same author of The Looming Tower.
Excelente relato de como resolver conflitos, recomendo! - Beatiful tale about conflict resolution, from the same author of The Looming Tower.
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