Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Review of Fletcher Knebel's Night of Camp David

Fletcher Knebel's Night of Camp David was a best seller in 1965, telling the story of a president who became paranoid, with delusions of grandeur. It was re-released in 2018 for obvious reasons. The fictional President Mark Hollenbach imagined cabals against him while devising secret plans to create a union with Canada and Scandinavia while wiretapping people whenever he wanted. Gradually people, starting with an Iowa senator (who himself is a selfish, sexist guy, but I guess he might've been seen at the time as a sympathetic character), start noticing erratic behavior and try to figure out what to do, especially since a summit with the Soviets is coming up.

I found it entertaining, both for the topic and as a period piece (lots of 1960s slang, for example). And it does offer food for thought about how to deal with a president whose own cabinet doubts their capacity to govern. The 25th amendment was ratified the same year the novel was published, but has not been put to the test.


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