Review: Thirteen Days in September by Lawrence Wright

Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, center, leans on the barrel of a cannon as he talks with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, left, and President Carter during a tour of the Gettysburg Batterfield

Examining thirteen days at Camp David in early September 1978, in his latest book Lawrence Wright explains how peace triumphed over the threat of further war. In rich narrative detail—though unfortunately with all-too-conventional analysis—Wright profiles the three men who forged a lasting agreement between Israel and Egypt: Sadat, Begin, and Carter.

In Anwar Sadat, Wright presents a man of great internal contradictions. Forged by his hatred for British colonialism in Egypt and driven by a sense of destiny, Sadat was no simple peacemaker. From his early years spent in violent uprisings and conspiracy with Nazi spies, to his failed 1973 invasion of Israel, peace was a late endeavor for the Egyptian leader. Wright describes an eccentric and often capricious personality: Sadat’s personal habits included lying daily on the floor of his bedroom “with a scarf over his eyes” and a passion for American westerns.

The Dark Side of Green Justice

Chevron sign

Forget “all this bullshit about law and facts,” remarked Steven Donziger in 2007. “In the end of the day, it is about brute force.”

Donziger was a plaintiffs’ attorney attempting to extract billions of dollars from oil giant Chevron—by whatever means necessary. His observation on the role the “law and facts” played in his work nicely captured the character of the years-long campaign of fraud, bribery, and extortion he conducted on behalf of his clients.