The most impressive fact about the 1979 Camp David Accords that made peace between Israel and Egypt is that they very nearly didn’t happen. As Lawrence Wright reveals in his latest book, Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David, animosity between the three leaders, dissent within the delegations, and misunderstandings and historically fueled mistrust repeatedly brought the negotiations to the brink of collapse. Bags packed and helicopters waiting, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin had to be coaxed back more than once to their rustic wood cabins at the Maryland country retreat by President Jimmy Carter himself.
In charting the ups and downs of the summit, Wright, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist best known for “The Looming Tower,” his 2005 study on the birth of Al-Qaida, brings his personal experience and talents as a storyteller to bear. In the book’s final pages, Wright discusses his own connection to the three stories that he weaves together in “Thirteen Days in September,” which began as a play, staged in Washington, D.C., earlier this year. Having lived in Georgia when Carter was governor and ran for president, Wright was teaching at the American University in Cairo when Sadat assumed office, and spent several years reporting from Israel.
Read the full review from 2014 in Haaretz.