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

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  2,726 ratings  ·  309 reviews
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, Law
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published September 16th 2014 by Knopf (first published 2014)
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”It is striking that, in a region as intimate as the Middle East, cultural ignorance and political miscalculation have played such perverse roles. By attacking the new country of Israel in 1948, the Arabs lost the chance to create an entity for Palestine. Through its policy of expulsion of the native population, Israel destabilized its neighbors and created a reservoir of future terrorists that was continually refreshed by new wars and population transfers.”

In surely what is the most intimately
Sep 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
My new favorite nonfiction subgenre is "Stuff That Happened When I Was Alive But Not Old Enough to Understand." It is, necessarily, a very specific topic area of interest to a very specific audience.

While I don't exactly remember these thirteen days, I remember the peace agreements signing ceremony, and wondering why it was such a big deal. Of course, I have spent seemingly every other day since then getting taught why these accords were important.

As with so many things in history, the Camp Da
Steven Z.
Sep 29, 2014 rated it liked it
On November 19, 1977 Egyptian President Anwar Sadat made a momentous journey when he visited Jerusalem. First, it led to the Camp David Agreement between Egypt and Israel, effectively removing Israel’s strongest enemy from the battlefield. Second, it cost the Egyptian leader his life as he was assassinated by Islamic extremists on October 6, 1981. Sadat’s removal from the diplomatic scene was a blow to the peace process from that point on. Motivated by the needs of the Egyptian economy, poverty, ...more
Jan 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
A detailed account of the Camp David peace summit in 1978 between Egypt's Anwar Sadat and Israel's Menachem Begin, refereed by U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

Wright draws vivid portraits of the principals: the logical, well-intentioned Carter, the intransigent Begin, and the more moderate and accommodating Sadat.

Reading this book, the reader will come to understand what worked and what didn't of the Treaties. How Egypt was temporarily isolated from the Arab world, how Begin subsequently blew the wh
Ted Hunt
Feb 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This relatively short, well written book provides an excellent examination of the Camp David peace conference of 1978, which resulted in the first peace treaty between Israel and one of its Arab neighbors. I was drawn to the book not only because of the subject matter, but because its author, Lawrence Wright, wrote one of the best books that I have ever read, the Pulitzer Prize winning examination of the history of al-Qaeda, "The Looming Tower." His current book did not disappoint. Not only does ...more
Nov 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
In the hands of a good author, history can be absolutely gripping. I was as enthralled with this book as any fictional thriller. I learned a LOT and not just about the Camp David accord. The author included a great deal of background information about so many of the people involved to greater and lesser degrees in this historic meeting. The middle east is such a complicated place and this book helped straighten much of it out for me.

One of the things I came away with is that every side - the Br
Julian Douglass
May 15, 2022 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
This is a well written and detailed account of the thirteen days that Cater started the path to peace in the Middle East. A great tick-tock of the weeks, Mr. Wright does an exceptional job of writing in a way that makes you think that the deal is not going to happen, even though everyone who has a basic understanding of late 20th century America knows that this was one of Carter's few accomplishments. The only reason why it was not 5 stars is that the format bugged me a bit. While the tick-tock ...more
Jennifer Ozawa
I know very little about the Middle East and the origins of all the conflicts that plague the region. I was curious and picked up The Looming Tower and this book as well.

This book is an excellent entryway into learning about the US’s involvement in Middle East politics. Lawrence Wright is becoming a favorite of mine. The book is concise and really makes characters out of all the men involved in the Camp David talks.
Cindy H.
Dec 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
A fascinating and in depth account of the thirteen days spent at Camp David , Maryland in 1978 where US President Jimmy Carter arranged and brokered a Peace accord between Egypt and Israel. Lawrence Wright did a phenomenal job researching and providing background information on all the key players. He made it very clear what each individual, as well as each country had to gain and lose by agreeing to undertake such a momentous task. I was awed by how intricate the nuances and wording of every li ...more
Aaron Million
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Lawrence Wright masterfully reviews and analyzes, in detail, the days leading up to the Camp David Accords in September 1978. This momentous peace treaty between Egypt and Israel still stands, mainly thanks to the flexibility and long-term vision of Anwar Sadat and the incredible work ethic of Jimmy Carter. Wright examines what all three sides brought to the table, and takes a close look at the important personalities who helped shaped the accords.

Wright structures the book so that the prologue
Mack Hayden
Sep 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
After finishing Going Clear, I was hungry for some more Lawrence Wright and this book didn't disappoint. His talent for depicting leaders in all the highs and lows of their humanity is pretty astounding. Carter, Begin, and Sadat all come across as plagued by different personal neuroses, driven by disparate hopes, and incapable of even agreeing on the same goals. Still, these three men managed to iron out an admittedly flawed set of peace accords in less than two weeks against all odds, and that ...more
Apr 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“Thirteen Days in September” by Lawrence Wright was a page turner…the narrative brought to light the tension in the Camp David Peace Accords. I ended up stuck between four stars and five for this work…I had given his other work – The Looming Tower – five stars and in the end do the same here.

Wright is masterful in how he breathes life into historical events and he doesn’t disappoint here. What brought me from 4+ to 5 is consideration for how little Wright had to work with in developing his stor
Charlotte Clymer
Apr 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
The prevailing viewpoint among Millennials is that Jimmy Carter was a lackluster president but has had an extraordinary impact on the world since he left office. He is now universally admired for his efforts on behalf of human rights, particularly women's rights as of late.

The former part of that--the lackluster presidency--is so ingrained in me based on everything I've seen about Carter that whenever I read something positive about this time in office, I am overcome by skepticism. When "Argo" w
Dec 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is an exceptional account of the Camp David treaty. Not only does it take you through the relevant conversations of each day, but the author throws in appropriate history of both the leaders and the nations to provide insight into why they behaved as they did. While the information is dense, the writing style makes these knotty issues digestible. Often I found myself turning to maps of the region in order to get a clearer picture of the land in question-and any book that leads to me doing o ...more
Margaret Sankey
Jan 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
While I wish this had footnotes, this is a masterful reconstruction of the Camp David meeting, with a useful 20th century review of middle eastern history, religious background and the political and personal baggage each participant (and their entourages) brought to the negotiating table. Of particular interest is the mechanics of diplomacy--what do you feed everyone, how do spouses affect the proceedings, what do you do when someone has a bicycle accident, what movies do you show?
Dec 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Lawrence Wright never disappoints. Engaging read of an incredibly important diplomatic event that changed the course of Middle East history. I appreciated the way he wove in many other pivotal historical events as well. As someone who has studied this issue extensively, I still learned a great deal.
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a well-researched account of the Camp David accords that established a limited but lasting peace between Egypt and Israel. Wright studied the biographies of all three leaders who were involved in the talks as well as the history that brought Anwar Sadat, Menachem Begin, and President Jimmy Carter to the Maryland woods for nearly two weeks of tense negotiation. The personalities of all three men affected the outcome in both positive and negative ways and Wright's assessments of their stre ...more
Jan 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating day-by-day account of one of the most remarkable diplomatic achievements of any American president: the thirteen-day summit at Camp David where Jimmy Carter managed to negotiate a peace between Israel and Egypt. It's an interesting glimpse of how negotiation happens: I was mildly surprised by how much can depend on slight changes in wording of an agreement--for example changing the phrase, "all territories acquired in war" to just "territories acquired in war" made a draft ...more
Apr 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic book on the Camp David Accords.

It offers not just the facts of what happened over the thirteen days Menanchem Begin, Anwar Sadat, and Jimmy Carter were cloistered at Camp David to try to hammer out peace between Egypt and Israel, but it also offers the background of the men involved. It helps understand the why of the Accords by understanding the why of the men involved.

It's engrossing, infuriating, and a great introduction to the complexity of the Middle East conflict, including the
Frank Cervarich
Jun 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read this book as a companion to my graduate study work on negotiations. Wright is a fabulous author, and takes the time necessary to give historical and geopolitical context to the story of Camp David. I enjoyed learning about a moment in history that I don’t feel that we talk about enough, and a peace that was reached by historic enemies that lasts to this day.
Frank Kelly
President Jimmy Carter remains one of the most unpopular president's of recent memory. At times, he seems to blot out the black mark of Richard Nixon. Perhaps this is more a result of his recent political blathering about various international crisis', taking positions that if not loopy sound almost anti-American. But history is a slow judge and looking back at his mostly failed presidency, there was one small bright spot: the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt.

Lawrence Wright - who ini
Sep 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
With the world in such a mess today it is refreshing to read of a time that the impossible managed to happen. In 1977 President Jimmy Carter saw an opportunity to fulfill his religious destiny by bringing peace to the Holy Land. Rosalynn Carter was the one to suggested using Camp David as an ideal location for a summit. The talks started on September 5 1978.

Carter had his hands full. Israeli Prime Minister Meacham Begin never loosened his tier, nor did his mind stray from the horror of the Holoc
Nov 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David is a really well written and exciting account of the thirteen days these three leaders spent at Camp David hammering out one of the most significant agreements in human history – the Camp David Accords. The description of the personalities of the three men was the most fascinating part of the story, most particularly how their backgrounds motivated them and informed the way the approached these negotiations. It really brought int ...more
Bob Pearson
Jan 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A more unlikely mix of personalities - Jimmy Carter, Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin - would be hard to imagine. To then additionally consider having these three leaders fashion a lasting peace settlement for the Middle East would normally conjure up visions of fantasy. Yet that is what happened in 1978, and Lawrence Wright has given us a brilliant account of the never ending tragedy and unrequited dream of peace for the world's most troubled geography. He focuses on the three leaders - their con ...more
Jared Nelson
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Worth the time!

It helped that I had read a few books about a few of the main characters (Moshe Dayan, Jimmy Carter, Anwar Sadat), and knew a bit of their histories and personalities. Definitely not required to enjoy the book, however.

The author's main story line may have been interesting all by itself but was certainly made even better by the frequent injection of historical details to supplement the particular topic the leaders were covering at Camp David.

For example, as subjects such as Gaza
Aaron Shields
Sep 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The fact that I read 300 pages on the Camp David Accords mean I'm beyond a dork, and this was really good.

"The unresolved issues of Camp David have not gone away, but the success of the summit is measured by its durability. Since the signing of the treaty between Israel and Egypt in 1979, there hasn't been a single violation of the agreement. It's impossible to calculate the value of peace until war brings it to an end..."

Tangent: Wright uses biblical stories (The Exodus, Battle of Jericho, etc)
May 25, 2015 rated it liked it
(Bookclub) This book was more interesting than I thought it would be. In the beginning, the author does a quick recap of the history of the area before the talks begin. I was a little worried that the material would continue to be dry. Suprisingly, when the negotiations started, he spent a lot of time filling in the background of each player by recapping their life experiences that would sway the way they thought and negotiated for what was important for them. It gave a lot of insight into each ...more
Jun 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How is it possible that this book is a thriller? I know the ending, and knew it all along. The emotional journey surprised me. Growing up I did hear the names of these political figures, and only knew from what country each one represented. A light background telling made each one so much more alive. I never realized that the three leaders represented the three dominant religions in the Middle East: Sadat: Muslim, Begin: Jewish, Carter: Christianity.

I recognized the reasoning of Mr Begin, born
Aug 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very detailed but also very readable account of the thirteen days of negotiations that led to the Camp David peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. Background on the history of the conflict is interspersed with the details of the negotiations. Also lots of insight into the very different personalities and leadership styles of Sadat, Begin, and Carter who, despite all odds, forged a peace treaty that, while certainly not perfect, has resulted in over 35 years of peace between Israel and Egypt. I ...more
Jesse Young
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm a relative novice to this moment in history, so it was a great primer on the Camp David Accord as well as the broader Middle East conflict. It's easy to draw a direct line from the failures in 1979 to the present state of affairs regarding Israel, and woefully so. Wright is a very dry writer, but he captures well the wildly-colorful personalities of Sadat and Begin who are both (slightly) mad, sometimes by their own admission. This is not the gossip-y indictment of "Going Clear," but rather ...more
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Lawrence Wright is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American author, screenwriter, staff writer for The New Yorker magazine, and fellow at the Center for Law and Security at the New York University School of Law. He is a graduate of Tulane University, and for two years taught at the American University in Cairo in Egypt.

Wright graduated from Woodrow Wilson High

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