From the author of "Going Clear," one of the definitive books about Scientology, Lawrence Wright tackles the 1978 Camp David negotiations - with a day-by day play-by-play, based on the recollections of those still living and the personal notes of Jimmy Carter. It's not just the intensity of the negotiations that stand out, but also a clear explanation of what happened in the wars from the war of independence in 1948 to the Yom Kippur War of 1973 which led up to the talks. Also included are the backstories of many of the players involved, including Begin, Sadat and Dayan. The important takeaways are that Israel and Egypt are still at peace after all these years, something that can't really be said for Israel's other neighbours (excepting Jordan); and that the issue of the West Bank and Gaza, which were supposed to be resolved within five years (i.e. 1983) are still festering to this day. A valuable look at the often complicated world of diplomacy.
Journalist Lawrence Wright wrote what may be the definitive 9/11 account, "The Looming Tower," and an eye-opening book on Scientology, "Going Clear." He now turns his considerable research and history as narrative powers to the Middle East, a subject which any American who cares about foreign policy should read up on. Deliberately echoing RFK's memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis, "Thirteen Days in September" is a day by day account of the historic Camp David meeting between Jimmy Carter, Israeli P.M. Menachem Begin, and Egypt's president Anwar Sadat, which stands as a diplomatic triumph for Carter, even if it was overshadowed by the Iran hostage crisis and his defeat by Reagan. Since we are still dealing with the tensions, complexities, and violence of the region, any history that attempts to give context and interpretation is invaluable to the American reader. It's much more insightful and thought provoking than Thomas Friedman's "From Beirut to Jerusalem." One of the key non-fiction books of 2014. Another important book on the subject is Tom Segev's "1967," an in depth history of the 6 Day War.
Strikes a good balance between personal anecdotes and larger historical issues. It makes a case for the event's importance without shying away from the negative impacts and non-impacts.
An approachable recounting of the Camp David summit. The brief biographical sketches of the main players are well done, and there are interesting tidbits along the way about the conference. Nevertheless, this book feels very much like History Lite.
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