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Introducing the 2015 Lionel Gelber Finalists. Today’s Nominee: Lawrence Wright

Every day this week, Foreign Policy is featuring an interview with one of the finalists for the Lionel Gelber Prize, a literary award for the year’s best non-fiction book in English on foreign affairs, jointly sponsored by FP and the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. Today’s finalist is New Yorker ...

CAMP DAVID, ETATS-UNIS:  This file photo shows former Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat (L) as he shakes hands with former Israeli Premier Menachem Begin, as former US President Jimmy Carter looks on 06 September 1978 at Camp David, the US presidential retreat in Maryland. Egypt began peace initiatives with Israel in late 1977, when Sadat visited Jerusalem. A year later, with the help of Carter, terms of peace between Egypt and Israel were negotiated at Camp David. A formal treaty, signed 26 March 1979 in Washington, DC, granted full recognition of Israel by Egypt, opened trade relations between the two countries, and limited Egyptian military buildup in the Sinai. Israel agreed to return a final portion of occupied Sinai to Egypt. The 25th anniversary of the peace accord signing is marked on 17 September 2003, however, 25 years later, the international community is facing a never-ending tug of war between Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and trying to prevent the second from exiling the first. The umpteenth peace plan named "roadmap", which calls for creating a Palestinian state, is on life support, and the Bush administration does not know how long the patient will be able to hold up. "Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian president Anwar Sadat were heroes who showed that, when leaders are willing to take enormous risks, peace is possible," Carter said recently, explaining why he thought the Camp David accords became possible. AFP PHOTO/HO (Photo credit should read KARL SCHUMACHER/AFP/Getty Images)
CAMP DAVID, ETATS-UNIS: This file photo shows former Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat (L) as he shakes hands with former Israeli Premier Menachem Begin, as former US President Jimmy Carter looks on 06 September 1978 at Camp David, the US presidential retreat in Maryland. Egypt began peace initiatives with Israel in late 1977, when Sadat visited Jerusalem. A year later, with the help of Carter, terms of peace between Egypt and Israel were negotiated at Camp David. A formal treaty, signed 26 March 1979 in Washington, DC, granted full recognition of Israel by Egypt, opened trade relations between the two countries, and limited Egyptian military buildup in the Sinai. Israel agreed to return a final portion of occupied Sinai to Egypt. The 25th anniversary of the peace accord signing is marked on 17 September 2003, however, 25 years later, the international community is facing a never-ending tug of war between Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and trying to prevent the second from exiling the first. The umpteenth peace plan named "roadmap", which calls for creating a Palestinian state, is on life support, and the Bush administration does not know how long the patient will be able to hold up. "Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian president Anwar Sadat were heroes who showed that, when leaders are willing to take enormous risks, peace is possible," Carter said recently, explaining why he thought the Camp David accords became possible. AFP PHOTO/HO (Photo credit should read KARL SCHUMACHER/AFP/Getty Images)

wrightimage Every day this week, Foreign Policy is featuring an interview with one of the finalists for the Lionel Gelber Prize, a literary award for the year’s best non-fiction book in English on foreign affairs, jointly sponsored by FP and the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. Today’s finalist is New Yorker staff writer Lawrence Wright, whose book, Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David, chronicles in detail the two painstaking weeks in 1978 when Jimmy Carter brought the Israeli and Egyptian delegations together in the secluded Maryland woods to hammer out a framework for peace. (See FP associate editor Max Strasser’s review of Thirteen Days here.)

The jury citation for Wright’s book is below:

Each chapter reads like the scene in a mystery, filmed on a mountain called Camp David, in Thirteen Days in September: Carter, Begin, and Sadat at Camp David by Lawrence Wright. Here are Jimmy Carter, Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat effectively incarcerated at Camp David by public expectations for a peace agreement between Israel and Egypt in 1979. Four days grow to thirteen as human foibles, resentments, greed, and ambition play out in this masterful rendition of a compromise that barely survives the travels home from the set.

And listen to the interview, conducted by Rob Steiner, a former Wall Street Journal correspondent and director of fellowships in international journalism at the Munk School, here:

Alicia P.Q. Wittmeyer is the Europe editor at Foreign Policy. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, and Forbes, among other places. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and master’s degrees from Peking University and the London School of Economics. The P.Q. stands for Ping-Quon. @APQW

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