"Nelson's entertaining history of the presidential retreat . . . 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."—Publishers Weekly
"Nelson describes the alterations, decorations, and world-shaping events that each president brought to Camp David. . . . Created as a secret hideaway, the camp has become internationally famous, and this in-depth, illustrated look once would have been considered a breach of secrecy."—Booklist
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.
W. Dale Nelson spent forty years as a reporter with the Associated Press. During twenty years in Washington, he won the Aldo Beckman Award for excellence in reporting about the presidency. He is the author of several books including Who Speaks for the President?, also published by Syracuse University Press.
6 x 9, 216 pages, 42 black and white illustrations