SOCIAL SCIENCES

Inside Camp David: The Private World of the Presidential Retreat

Little, Brown. Oct. 2017. 320p. ISBN 9780316509619. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780316509602. HIST
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Rear Admiral Giorgione (U.S. Navy Civil Engineer Corps), a commanding officer of the presidential retreat Camp David from 1999 to 2001, fills a gap by writing a book that "peer[s] over the gate" at the secure, remote, and nearly invisible estate in the wooded hills of Maryland. Girogione shows that presidents are different at Camp David: "more reflective, playful, and energized," saying they can "reveal their humanity." In telling the stories of the activities of presidential families, the work and lives of the military crew that serve them come into sharp focus as well. The author interviewed all living commanders who have served there, offering their firsthand accounts along with his own to give a complete yet personal history. Of note are the profiles of presidents away from the glare of Washington: Harry Truman's dislike of Camp David, John F. Kennedy's restful visits, Betty Ford calling it the "best thing about the White House," Jimmy Carter's use of the site during the difficult negotiations for Egypt-Israel Peace, and George W. Bush's thoughtful and spiritual reactions.
VERDICT This intelligent and recommended account is sure to appeal to readers of presidential biographies and American history buffs in general.

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