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Night of Camp David

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  1,350 ratings  ·  298 reviews
How can one man convince the highest powers in Washington that the President of the United States is dangerously unstable--before it's too late?

Senator Jim MacVeagh is proud to serve his country--and his president, Mark Hollenbach, who has a near-spotless reputation as the vibrant, charismatic leader of MacVeagh's party and the nation. When Hollenbach begins taking MacVeag
Mass Market Paperback, 336 pages
Published 1971 by Bantam (first published 1965)
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Linda Vintage Books, part of Penguin Random House, is re-releasing Night of Camp David Nov. 20, 2018 in paperback, e-book, and audio. Available for pre-orde…moreVintage Books, part of Penguin Random House, is re-releasing Night of Camp David Nov. 20, 2018 in paperback, e-book, and audio. Available for pre-order now, 12.71 for paperback on Amazon.(less)
Linda It will be available as an ebook on November 20, 2018, available by pre-order now on Amazon. It will be republished in paperback, ebook, and audio by …moreIt will be available as an ebook on November 20, 2018, available by pre-order now on Amazon. It will be republished in paperback, ebook, and audio by Vintage Books, part of Penguin Random House.(less)

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Bill Kerwin

Congratulations, you clever people at Vintage books! You really suckered me into reading this one!

I mean, there I was, minding my own business, walking past the shelves at a middling pace, when I saw this paperback book, its white white lettering glaring against a black black background: WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF THE PRESIDENT OF THE U.S.A. WENT STARK-RAVING MAD?

Now me, being a good American concerned for the fate of my country and in the habit of paying attention to the president’s tweets, thought t
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What would happen if the President of the United States (POTUS) showed signs of mental instability? Such is the question in Fletcher Knebel’s 1965 political novel that reverberates in current literature. When James MacVeagh is summoned to meet with President Mark Hollenbach at Camp David, he is unsure what to expect, especially this late at night. The junior senator from Iowa agrees, hoping that he will be privy to some interesting information. Their meeting is quite odd, one in which Hollenbach ...more
Mar 15, 2015 rated it really liked it

I didn't write a review of this book, because in this instance the publisher's blurb is a perfect review that does not spoil the plot. That is rare.
Nandakishore Varma
Feb 02, 2019 marked it as to-read
If POTUS went raving mad,
Would it be really, really bad?
Knebel, when he wrote this book
Had no idea where to look:
Had to rely on his imagination
To describe what would happen to the nation.

Well, now we are better informed,
With bitter experience we are armed;
A mad POTUS, all angry and bitter
Will spend most of his time ranting on Twitter,
Will talk incessantly of building a wall
While the country does a "Decline and Fall";
Will deny science and forgo good sense
And incur to the world, damage immense.
Kim Kaso
Dec 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lor50002019
Read on and off through the night. A prescient book which I read back in the early 70s as I developed a taste for political thrillers. I was reminded of it while watching a segment of The Rachel Maddow show where she talked about a president suffering from mental incapacity, she was reminded of this book by political historian Michael Beschloss. I went to look for it, but it was out-of-print and wildly expensive. Lo and behold, however, the “buzz” created by their discussion caused a reissue, an ...more
Cathryn Conroy
Two important facts:
1. The unofficial subtitle of this work of fiction is: What would happen if the president of the USA went stark-raving mad?
2. It was published in 1965.

This novel by Fletcher Knebel was just reissued by Random House, presumably because the premise is so close to what many people in this country now think of our current president. The similarities end there. The book's fictional president, Mark Hollenbach, is very (very) different from Donald Trump and not just because Hollenba
Apr 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Fletcher Knebel 's first book written without Charles W. Bailey II, this is a worthy follow up to "Seven Days in May". This time, a junior senator from Iowa is asked to meet with the President at Camp David; the result of the meeting is that the senator begins to believe that the President is becoming clinically paranoid and is descending into madness.

Writing in 1965, Knebel tries, and for the most part succeeds, to keep the tone matter of fact and eschews melodramatic flourishes in favor of doc
Dec 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: thriller, fiction
Almost adorable in its naivete considering our current situation, but this was written in 1965. The president in this book is more of a Mike Pence character in his weird Puritanical attitude towards women (which is seen as a warning sign when the Senator who is up for the VP job starts to investigate the president's background), though the president is a nice contrast to the hero of the book, a sleazy first-time Senator from Iowa, who grows alarmed of the president's mental state after the roast ...more
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Come for the story of a paranoid, mentally incompetent president, stay for the yuck-yuck racism and unapologetic sexism?

People may come to this novel looking for some suggestions for dealing with our current crisis or simply as an old-fashioned political thriller, but I don't think it satisfies on either front. Of course I totally get why this book has been republished in our current times as we struggle with questions about the mental state and fitness for office of our the current White House
Abigail Bok
Jun 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was an almost-thrill for me. The writing was competent and sometimes insightful; the author had a way with imagery that rarely felt stale and often surprised. And the premise is a whopper: what do you do if you think the president of the United States is insane?

This is the dilemma faced by a junior senator from Iowa, Jim MacVeagh. The year is somewhere in the 1960s (the book was published in 1965); the administration is Democratic but not Lyndon Johnson's. The president has summoned the sen
Jul 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fast-moving and thought-provoking. I'm so glad it's not relevant to anything going on in the world today. ...more
Tim Petersik
Dec 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
What does a lawmaker do when he's convinced the president of the United States is insane? Here's a plausible scenario. Older book, but still relevant and thrilling. ...more
Nov 03, 2016 rated it it was ok
What the hell, Grandma.
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: politics
The book is very dated. It's chief interest is as a reminder of what sexual mores were like in the mid-60's. Even though I lived through the era, it is hard to remember how, for want of a better term, patriarchal it was. As for the political message: The story probably was powerful in its day - do we have the wherewithal to deal with a mad president? However, it is hard to treat the fictional President Hollenbach as mad -- on one of his good days, Trump makes Hollenbach seem the picture of sanit ...more
Stewart Sternberg
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
"I just could not face my children or yours if I didn’t do everything in my power to get Mark Hollenbach away from the go-code. It is sheer folly to have that man anywhere near the command and control machinery. It might lead to wholesale murder.”

So speaks the Secretary of Defense in Night of Camp David.

Throughout this entire novel I couldn't help thinking about Donald Trump. At least in the novel, the president's mental disorder was something hidden away, for the most part. In Trump's case, it
Aug 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a political thriller written in 1965 about a young senator who begins to suspect that the President of the United States has gone insane. The first clue? The president wants to enact a federal wiretapping law that would let him listen in on and store the phone conversations of US citizens. Crazy, right?
Boris Feldman
This book, published in 1965, has been reissued because it involves a President who goes nuts. So, the re-release is a political statement. The story isn't bad. The writing is very 65'ish. ...more
Dec 25, 2018 marked it as did-not-finish
I yield at 38% after a tremendous amount of skimming to get there. Nothing happened. Nothing.
Diane Hernandez
Senator Jim McVeagh is approached by President Mark Hollenbach at a journalists’ dinner and invited to Camp David the same evening. While there, the President states that using wiretaps on every phone in America is a good way to prevent crime. He then goes on a paranoid rant against his own Vice President, OMalley. He asks Jim what he thinks of various alternatives he is considering as running mates for his reelection campaign. One of the alternatives is Jim himself.

After returning home, Jim le
Carla Coon
Sep 30, 2014 rated it liked it
It was a good read altogether. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough sympathy for Jim Mcveigh's character. His affair and quick & easy make up with the wife was more of a man's fantasy than reality. The president and his crazy ideas were portrayed well. Too, the inner workings of Washington and secret meetings within the Democratic party leaders were well done.The ending was anti-climatic for me. I think the author could have gone somewhere exciting threat-wise, the president's finger on the butto ...more
Ruth Chatlien
Aug 08, 2019 rated it liked it
This 1965 novel was recently reissued, apparently in an bid to capitalize on the current fears (by some, at least) of damage to the country over having an unstable person in the White House. It’s an ok read. It ably lays out some constitutional issues (although contemporary readers are likely to find the exposition too long and detailed) but ultimately the ending falls flat, and the book is less than satisfying. I’m glad I borrowed it from the library and didn’t reward the publisher’s opportunis ...more
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
The tagline of this book is "What would happen if the President of the U.S.A. went stark-raving mad?"

Talk about ripped from the headlines! The author obviously saw what is going on in this country and churned out a timely novel to address the issue and—what? What's that you say?

This book was first published in 1965? Get out!

It's true. Fletcher Knebel is the same guy who wrote "Seven Days In May." I'm not sure why the publishers decided now was a good time to reissue this book. [eye roll]

The j
Christopher Saunders
Dec 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017-reads
An ambitious young Senator realizes that the President of the United States has gone insane, and frantically tries to convince his colleagues before he acts on his strange impulses. Poor thriller by the author of Seven Days in May starts with an interesting premise, then bogs down in an overcomplicated plot; who cares about the protagonist's philandering or the President's choice of running mate when the fate of the Republic hangs in the balance? Not to mention the actual cause of his suspicions ...more
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a thought-provoking novel, the ideas still current 50 years later. A junior senator is tapped as the president's running mate for his second term after the current VP is embroiled in a corruption scandal. When the senator, Jim MacVeigh, has a late-night meeting with the president at Camp David, he's disturbed by the president's plans to institute wire-tapping of all phone calls and to forge a super-union with Canada and Scandinavia. He also talks about the VP and others plotting against ...more
Jul 19, 2012 rated it liked it was a rather interesting read, actually. But, the ending was such an utter disappointment. As if the author just got tired of reading and so ended it.
Mal Warwick
Dec 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Its title is Night of Camp David, but Amazon covered it up online with a teaser page to emphasize the novel's relevance to the madness in Washington today. "What would happen if the President of the U.S.A. went stark-raving mad?" the teaser reads. The implication is that this novel anticipated Donald Trump.

In fact, this political thriller published more than 50 years ago is difficult to relate to today's circumstances. Only in the most general sense can it be said that the novel anticipated Dona
Dec 30, 2018 rated it liked it
This was written in 1965 and re-issued, I suspect, to take advantage of today's Presidential politics. It really has nothing to do with today as Trump is not insane. Even the President in the book is only mildly mentally ill although it does present an intriguing scenario. How do you convince a group of seasoned politicians of the same party that their wildly popular leader is having mental problems that could place the country at danger when you yourself are only a first time Senator? Senator J ...more
Eric Wilson
Jan 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really got into this book, even if it seemed mild in comparison to things we've witnessed weekly for the past four years. The story fizzles out a bit, but I still recommend it. The characters on all sides are flawed and interesting. ...more
Oct 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On a par with "Seven Days in May" I think; thanks to Rachel Maddow for bringing this title to our attention. A very plausible scenario regarding the possibility of mental illness affecting a man who resides at the center of power. How does the American political system deal with such a situation? Knebel is on his game with this one, keeping the reader on the edge throughout the narrative. Quite well written, with many well-drawn characters - the cheating senator's wife comes off as too accommoda ...more
Danae  - WordPeace
I have to say the excellent marketing of this story is what made me pick it up in the bookstore. "What would happen if the President of the United States went stark-raving mad?" the front cover asks. Well, how timely. Upon closer inspection I saw that this novel had been published in 1965, but I was already intrigued and took it home with me that day.

Knebel's idea of stark-raving mad is quite different (perhaps innocent, even) to what we in the US are witnessing in the White House today. Howeve
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Fletcher Knebel was an American author of several popular works of political fiction.

He graduated from high school in Yonkers, New York, spent a year studying at the Sorbonne and graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio in 1934. Upon graduation, he received a job offer from the Coatesville Record, in Coatesville, Pennsylvania. He spent the next 20 years working in newspapers, eventually bec

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