Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David
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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.
which we will make public tomorrow, these two Camp David agreements provide the basis for progress and peace throughout the Middle East.” Carter added that the Knesset would vote within the next two weeks on the issue of removing the settlements so that the final peace negotiations could begin. Sadat praised Carter for his courage in undertaking the summit. “Dear friend, we came to Camp David with all the goodwill and faith we possess, and we left Camp David a few minutes ago with a renewed
bishop lay dead in his official robes. The Cuban ambassador was also dead. Twenty-eight people were wounded. The Belgian ambassador was shot twice. Blood cascaded down the steps of the reviewing stand. One of the assassins was killed and three others injured and then arrested. “I have killed the Pharaoh!” Islambouli crowed. Osama el-Baz, who was seated near Sadat when the attack began, disappeared. Mubarak refused to announce the president’s death until his closest aide could be found. It was
pieces by a Syrian bomb. Without a Lebanese partner to clean up the PLO machinery still left in place, the Israeli army then invaded West Beirut. “Two targets in particular seemed to interest Sharon’s army,” Thomas Friedman, then a young correspondent for The New York Times in Beirut, later wrote. One was an archive of old Palestine—books, land deeds, photographs of Arab life, and maps that marked every Arab village that stood before the State of Israel was created. Friedman observed the
to circulate. Rosalynn sat with Sadat on the low brick wall around the patio. She had noticed how forlorn he appeared, especially as the patriotic music was playing. Sadat couldn’t even bring himself to mention Begin’s name. “I’ve given so much and ‘that man’ acts as though I have done nothing,” he told her. “I have given up all the past to start anew, but ‘that man’ will not let go of the past.” Rosalynn tried to reassure him, reminding him that the whole world admired his courage and was
also different, Dayan realized: they were well trained and disciplined, and they did not run away. Moreover, they had the crucial advantage of striking first. That evening, however, Dayan went on television to reassure his fellow citizens that he had the situation under control. “In the Golan Heights, perhaps a number of Syrian tanks penetrated across our line,” he conceded, but it was nothing to worry about. As for the canal, Dayan said, the Egyptian attack “will end as a very, very dangerous