The President Is at Camp David

Overview

Invitations to Camp David, the presidential retreat in the Catoctin Mountains of Maryland, are rare, limited to the closest members of the president's family and administration, and to the most notable foreign dignitaries. For those who will never visit it, W. Dale Nelson's book offers an intimate look at the camp and its eminent lodgers. Franklin D. Roosevelt, who selected the spot, which was originally built as a boys camp, called it Shangri-La. Harry Truman visited the rustic retreat only occasionally. In the ...
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Overview

Invitations to Camp David, the presidential retreat in the Catoctin Mountains of Maryland, are rare, limited to the closest members of the president's family and administration, and to the most notable foreign dignitaries. For those who will never visit it, W. Dale Nelson's book offers an intimate look at the camp and its eminent lodgers. Franklin D. Roosevelt, who selected the spot, which was originally built as a boys camp, called it Shangri-La. Harry Truman visited the rustic retreat only occasionally. In the 1950s, Dwight Eisenhower found it a perfect haven, added a small golf course, and renamed it after his father and grandson. Eisenhower was also the first to lift the veil of secrecy around the retreat by inviting Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev to visit. With Khrushchev's visit, the "spirit of Camp David" came to symbolize one of the first thaws of the cold war. Other former Soviet Premiers would follow, including Leonid Brezhnev, who, it is said, was accompanied by a stewardess who spent the night in his cabin. It was in this tranquil setting that Lyndon B. Johnson imported aides to plan and debate the Vietnam War. After his reelection, Nixon went to the mountaintop to reorganize his administration. In the meantime, he had secret taping devices installed in the presidential lodge. It was Jimmy Carter, though, who restored Camp David's international fame by using it for the intense negotiations to achieve peace between Israel and Egypt.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Nelson's entertaining history of the presidential retreat in Maryland's Catoctin Mountains sheds light on a relatively obscure but not unimportant aspect of the presidency. Using memoirs, archives and interviews, he relates how FDR selected the site, how Truman made the first improvements and how succeeding chief executives have used (or neglected to use) the camp's rustic facilities. Nelson emphasizes how Camp David, named for President Eisenhower's father and grandson, has often provided an informal setting for summit meetings such as the 1960 Eisenhower-Khrushchev talks, which forged the short-lived ``Spirit of Camp David'' thaw, and the meetings between Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin that President Carter hosted and that led to the 1978 Camp David Accords. The historical meetings reviewed here are not as interesting as the trivia Nelson has collected: Margaret Truman's opinion that the place was claustrophobic and gloomy; Pat Nixon's warning to incoming First Lady Nancy Reagan that ``Without Camp David you'll go stir crazy.'' Nelson was an AP reporter for 40 years. Photos. (May)
Booknews
The presidential retreat, Camp David, has become synonymous with the US image of political power at its highest level. Nelson offers a glimpse into the place and the men who spent time there from Roosevelt to Bush, detailing ephemera and gossip as well as more significant events such as meetings between Kennedy and Eisenhower after the Bay of Pigs, and Carter's sponsoring of negotiations between Begin and Sadat. Includes photographs to round out a wealth of interesting historical research. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780815606284
  • Publisher: Syracuse University Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2000
  • Pages: 344
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents

Illustrations
Foreword
Acknowledgments
Prologue 1
1 The Shangri-La of Franklin D. Roosevelt 4
2 Harry Truman Comes to Shangri-La 22
3 Dwight D. Eisenhower: Camp David Comes into Being 30
4 John F. Kennedy: Camelot in the Catoctins 51
5 Lyndon B. Johnson: Camp David and Vietnam 58
6 Richard Nixon: Refuge from Watergate 69
7 Gerald R. Ford: Camp David Meets the Press 95
8 Jimmy Carter: Arab and Jew at Camp David 110
9 Ronald Reagan: Horseback in Shangri-La 134
Epilogue 149
Notes 157
Bibliography 175
Index 187
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