Inside Camp David

The Private World of the Presidential Retreat


By Michael Giorgione

Read by Michael Giorgione

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The first-ever insider account of Camp David, the president’s private retreat, on the seventy-fifth anniversary of its inception.

Never before have the gates of Camp David been opened to the public. Intensely private and completely secluded, the president’s personal campground is situated deep in the woods, up miles of unmarked roads that are practically invisible to the untrained eye. Now, for the first time, we are allowed to travel along the mountain route and directly into the fascinating and intimate complex of rustic residential cabins, wildlife trails, and athletic courses that make up the presidential family room.

For seventy-five years, Camp David has served as the president’s private retreat. A home away from the hustle and bustle of Washington, this historic site is the ideal place for the First Family to relax, unwind, and, perhaps most important, escape from the incessant gaze of the media and the public. It has hosted decades of family gatherings for thirteen presidents, from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Barack Obama, including holiday celebrations, reunions, and even a wedding. But more than just a weekend getaway, Camp David has also been the site of private meetings and high-level summits with foreign leaders to foster diplomacy.

Former Camp David commander Rear Admiral Michael Giorgione, CEC, USN (Ret.), takes us deep into this enigmatic and revered sanctuary. Combining fascinating first-person anecdotes of the presidents and their families with storied history and interviews with commanders both past and present, he reveals the intimate connection felt by the First Families with this historic retreat.




There’s just something about this place.

—Marine stationed at Camp David

ON AN EARLY-WINTER day, the mountain is quiet during my long, winding drive to the top—eighteen hundred feet up from the town of Thurmont, Maryland. I go past the now-silent campgrounds, buried in the last fallen leaves of autumn. Past the deep woods, with their streams and brush and spectacular bluffs. Along the way, the barren oak, tulip poplar, and red maple trees stand like a dense army of frozen sentries, thousands of them lining the road on both sides.

I have made this drive in all seasons. On a late-spring day, the woods are abloom, the fragrance of honeysuckle, mountain laurel, and wildflowers hanging in the air. The summer heat gives way to a cooling effect the higher you climb—the temperature at the top of the mountain is ten to fifteen degrees below that of the towns at its base. Late fall brings an icy rain that coats the ground in a treacherous sheen. By December, the woods are quiet, as if hibernating. Snow, when it comes, encases every branch in a sparkling glow. Each season brings its own special wonder to the Catoctin Mountains, home of Camp David, the presidential retreat.

Camp David is actually a Navy installation, though hardly a typical one. Its official name is Naval Support Facility Thurmont. It is commanded by a U.S. Navy Civil Engineer Corps officer of the commander rank—as I was when I served there—and is staffed, maintained, operated, and guarded by an extraordinary team of Sailors, Marines, and other military personnel under the White House Military Office (WHMO, pronounced “whammo”). We’re the force on the ground, so to speak, and the story of Camp David is very much our story too.

It is easy while I’m on that drive to the top to feel the history alive in these mountains, because this is a very American kind of place. George Washington probably visited the area, which was clear-cut for charcoal to produce cannonballs at the Catoctin Furnace during the Revolutionary War—the mountain’s first national service.

Camp David is purposely hard to find unless you know where to look for it. One writer described it as “a place that doesn’t exist,” an apt portrayal. The turnoff, which I know so well but which would easily escape the eye of a casual traveler, is a crack in the almost seamless landscape, marked with a small sign that reads CAMP #3, an anonymous designation tracing back to an old WPA site from the 1930s. There is no grand entrance, no stately front gate or barrier on the main road. Even David Eisenhower, for whom the camp is named, had a hard time locating it one day on a drive through the mountains with his wife, Julie Nixon Eisenhower. And both of them had been to the camp many times. Its very anonymity is its best defense against intruders, as there is nothing discernible—no visible security, nothing at all, just the woods and a high fence that’s mostly hidden unless you get up close. It can feel, on a dark winter afternoon, as if the nearest human being is a thousand miles away. But if, by accident or intention, you turn in and proceed a few yards down the path, everything changes. The silent landscape springs to life in the form of some of the most capable and observant military forces known to man. Here, the trees really do have eyes.

It can give the place an eerie atmosphere.

Chuck Howe, the commanding officer (CO) at the end of the Kennedy administration, recalled that First Lady Jackie Kennedy once asked his six-year-old daughter, Polly, “Do you like it up here?”

Polly replied enthusiastically, “Yes, I love it!”

Jackie leaned in and said, “But it’s so spooky.”

Howe’s wife, Jo-An, listening to the conversation, laughed. “Oh, Mrs. Kennedy,” she said, “you don’t know how hard they work to keep it spooky for you so that you won’t see them and you’ll feel free to be anyplace here.”

The point was well taken by Jackie, and she would come to appreciate the remote feeling of Camp David as a welcome respite from the constant attention she and the children received in the outside world.

One could be forgiven for thinking the camp has ghosts. At night, the silence and unnatural stillness can creep up on you. After FDR’s death, the Filipino stewards who had served him were afraid to enter his cabin alone after dark. They reported seeing the glow of a cigarette on the screened porch where they had often watched FDR smoking at night. I could relate. Going to the woodshed after dark and in a misty fog to get firewood could be its own spooky experience, and the patter of mice scurrying around and beneath the stacked, rotting logs added to the sense of unease.

Every commanding officer has had a similar feeling. “It’s a mystical place,” Commander Mike O’Connor, who served during George W. Bush’s presidency, said of his first impression of the camp. “You hear about it, but experiencing it is different. It’s mystical. It gives you goose bumps.”

Camp David is functionally invisible, as it’s designed to be. In the beginning, during FDR’s time, as World War II raged on, the administration went to great lengths to deny the camp (then called Shangri-La) even existed. The best efforts of the press were thwarted again and again as the White House put them off the scent, and it wasn’t fully unveiled until after the war. Such secrecy is understandable in a time of war, but there was another reason for it too: a president needs a small corner of the universe where he can truly be alone with his thoughts and relaxed in his demeanor. Before Reagan took office, Pat Nixon confided to Nancy, “Without Camp David, you’ll go stir crazy.” And most presidents since have agreed.

Today, absolute privacy is the gift Camp David continues to bestow on presidents. Press access is limited and invitation only, and those invitations are usually given only when there is an international summit. At the White House there is such a constant clamor, so many demands, that there is literally little chance to think. At Camp David, the clamor subsides, if not the weight of obligation. A White House photographer is on hand only when requested to capture personal moments in the manner of a family scrapbook. Even these photos are guarded. Unlike at the White House, where every moment is observed and recorded, at the camp, it is possible to close the door and draw the curtains, shutting out the nation for a precious brief time. Presidents can breathe here. Reagan spoke of the “sense of liberation” he felt at Camp David.

The intrigue of the place, its mystery, begins with the difficulty of accessing it. While many guests fly in with the president on Marine One or on separate military helicopters, most of the Sailors and Marines who run the place take the route up the mountain by car from their housing below and are subjected to the rigorous security process every single time.

The goal is to keep the world out. Occasionally, though, even a president might feel a bit fenced in. George W. Bush sometimes took runs outside the camp—much to the displeasure of the Secret Service. Once when he reached the gate, he cried, “I’m free!”

It’s definitely easier to get out than to get in. I won’t talk much about the security—for security reasons!—but suffice it to say that the search is thorough. It takes some time to get in, even if you have high-level security clearance. Sometimes there can be a wait to go through the process. During one change-of-command, a CO’s wife offered this tip: “When the president is at camp, the gate does not open if he’s moving around. Bring a book—and don’t buy ice cream!”

Once you’re inside, the busyness of the security area quickly gives way to the camp feeling. Golf carts are the primary mode of transportation, most of them four-seaters (two facing forward, two facing back), with the president’s cart designated Golf Cart One. When the winter chill sets in, zippered plastic canopies are added to the carts, though they do little to cut the cold and only slightly reduce the wind. Riding along the narrow, winding paths through the woods, a visitor will note that everything is pristine. Even in autumn there is not a stray leaf to be seen, a remarkable feat considering the abundance of trees. Legend has it that Nancy Reagan was bothered by the scrubbed look, which seemed unnatural. “Where are the leaves?” she asked. That night a crew of dutiful Seabees, who make up about 60 percent of the Navy enlisted crew, went out and sprinkled leaves along the path in front of Aspen, the president’s cabin.

The landscaping efforts always have two goals, sometimes at odds with each other: make it look natural—and perfect. Nature often wins. White-tailed deer, who live and breed inside the fence, are frequently spotted and given names. On the Reagans’ first visit, the couple stood in Aspen and looked out the rear window to find eight deer staring back at them. “Look,” Reagan said, “we have a welcoming committee.”

Commander John Dettbarn, who served for nearly four years during Nixon’s administration, recalled that Julie and Tricia Nixon were fond of one doe in the camp and named her Apples. Apples loved cigarettes—the crew was allowed to smoke openly throughout the grounds at the time—and she would try to steal packs from their pockets, often chasing crew members. When Tricia and Ed Cox were honeymooning at Camp David, Dettbarn received a call that Apples had gotten inside Dogwood cabin, where they were staying. It was never discovered how this happened, although there was speculation that Ed coaxed her in. Concerned for the safety of Tricia and Ed and not wanting the newly rebuilt Dogwood cabin to be damaged, they hurried to the area. Dettbarn’s master chief arrived first and was able to coax Apples out of Dogwood with no harm to the couple or the cabin.

Deer can be pests, as many homeowners know; they nibble at flowers and trample gardens. The number of deer at Camp David and in the surrounding forest is the subject of some controversy, as their birth rate is high enough to compromise the sustainability of the woods—they have voracious appetites and destroy saplings and low-hanging branches. The deer are constantly in a battle with Seabees over the prized flower beds around Aspen, despite fencing that’s put up when no guests are around. From time to time the National Park Service comes in to cull the herd.

Living in the woods means unusual encounters with wildlife, including snakes and raccoons. “Anything can happen in the woods,” said CO Keith Autry, who was called to Aspen by an alarmed Obama family when they discovered a snake in the house. In the fall, my wife, Michele, traditionally decorated our front and side doors with hay, cornstalks, and an assortment of pumpkins and gourds. One night a determined raccoon pounded away at the display and attacked the side door’s glass pane, seeing his reflection and thinking he was in a duel with another midnight scavenger. Once again, our friends at the National Park Service came aboard to help; they trapped the raccoon without harming him and relocated him to another part of the Catoctin forest, well outside the fence line. Chuck Howe remembered capturing a rattlesnake and putting it in a glass jar to show his kids, only later realizing the danger. “If I’d dropped the jar, I would have pissed off a rattlesnake.”

The camp interior consists of over twenty cabins, among other facilities. There is a gym, a chapel, a health clinic, a fire department, maintenance buildings, and a hangar to hold Marine One when the president is on-site. There are also offices, a mess hall, barracks for unmarried enlisted men and women, and a recreation facility.

On first impression, the place has the rustic aura of a campground, familiar to most Americans; the rough-hewn oak cabins are all painted a moss green. The color was Franklin Roosevelt’s choice. He told the crew he wanted green. “What color green?” they asked. “I don’t know—just take white and add green to it.” In most respects, the camp is the polar opposite of the White House with its stately grandeur—a place apart and deliberately distinct. There’s a reason Camp David is not listed on the historic registry: to keep bureaucrats from meddling.

A tour of the camp along the winding paths, just wide enough for a medium-size vehicle or golf cart, begins at Aspen, the president’s cabin. First named the Bear’s Den by FDR, it was later renamed Aspen in homage to Mamie Eisenhower’s Colorado home.

The lush acreage, appealing to most, disturbed Harry Truman, a product of the flat midwestern plains. When he first entered Aspen, he complained, “I look out the window and there’s nothing but trees.” The forest pressed up against the president’s cabin and made Truman feel hemmed in. He instructed Lieutenant Commander William M. Rigdon, his assistant naval aide, to have the area cleared, and a work party from the presidential yacht, the USS Williamsburg, set about cutting down trees and clearing out the heavy underbrush.

Rigdon wrote that once the forest was cut back “it looked more like a suburban spot than a place hidden in the forest.” Not quite. But the cutback had the desired effect, and today a president can stand at the back of Aspen and take in the stunning vista of the manicured lawn of Eisenhower’s three-tee golf green and the magnificent heated swimming pool added by Nixon. An old stone barbecue pit was Eisenhower’s favorite spot; he loved to cook big fat steaks on the fire. From time to time people have suggested a more modern grilling area, but it has never happened. Terraced gardens surround a patio where world leaders have relaxed with presidents over meals and drinks.

I remember seeing Aspen for the first time. I entered it through the side door; I rarely used the front door that is captured in almost every photo you see of the president’s mountain lodge. The side door leads to a mudroom, and through that is the kitchen, then the main living and entertaining area. Bedrooms are on the opposite side of the cabin.

Like much of Camp David, Aspen has a sense of history suspended in the air and embedded in the paneled walls. The conversations, the arguments, the intense discussions, the welcomes, and the dismissals are all part of how presidents have used Aspen diplomatically. Beyond the history, I felt the cabin was incredibly simple and basic, very much your grandparents’ longtime home—dated but comfortable furniture, aged-stone fireplaces, bookshelves filled with leather binders containing press clippings and articles of historic events. There’s a functional pantry and kitchen with simple plates, cups, glasses, and utensils; certainly no china or crystal for this extraordinary residence.

And yet to me, this simplicity, this country comfort, made Aspen even more revered and special—it was almost like looking at an original Founder’s document. I often felt that you wouldn’t want to modernize the cabin too much. Plumbing, electricity, heating, air-conditioning, all those things behind the walls, yes. They need constant upgrading and more efficient operation, but the walls, the ceilings, the doors, and the palpable sense of history in the air—leave those alone!

And presidents mostly have, with some improvements. The Nixons added the swimming pool and made one other change—they asked CO Dettbarn to replace the king-size bed and headboard that had been there since Kennedy’s time. The headboard was a large overstuffed item with the presidential seal in the middle. The Nixons thought it was too formal. When they scrapped the furnishings, Dettbarn removed the seal, and Pat Nixon told him to keep it. It now resides in his living-room curio cabinet. Talk about a keepsake!

Other presidents and First Ladies have left their personal stamps on Aspen. In her memoir, Nancy Reagan, who was often criticized for lavish expenditures, wrote, “For me, one of the best parts about Camp David was that there wasn’t a whisper of controversy about the renovations I made there. Because the entire place is off-limits to the press, nobody ever knew what I did.” She took some pleasure in that, although her improvements to Aspen were relatively minor—new slipcovers, landscaping, and the like—and did not change the character of the place.

George W. Bush wrote in his memoir of the cozy atmosphere, which appealed to his family. “Its interior is simple but comfortable. The wooden structure has three bedrooms, a perfect size for our family; a sunlit living room where I watched football with my brother Marvin and friends; and a stone fireplace beside which Laura and I liked to read at night.”

In front of Aspen is a small pond that FDR had constructed because he had a terrible fear of fire and wanted water nearby. During his time, the pond was stocked with trout, but later it was filled with koi. In the icy winter of 2015, the pond froze and so did the koi. Since then the water has been temperature-controlled to prevent a similar catastrophe. A small bench, hewn from a tree log, provides a spot for contemplation. My young daughter Briana liked to sit there, commune with the fish, and make up stories about living in the woods.

During Reagan’s administration the pond was also stocked with goldfish. One day Commander Bill Waters received a panicked call from the president. “Commander, you’ve got to do something! The poor devils are dying!” Thinking the camp was under attack, Waters sprang to his feet and raced over to Aspen, where he found Reagan staring morosely into the fishpond. Two goldfish were floating on top, clearly dead. Waters promised to get to the bottom of it, and having no idea what goldfish die of, he ordered autopsies of the fish. He learned that some fish had trouble acclimating to the high elevation, and he passed on his report to the concerned president.

Beyond Aspen are Birch and Dogwood, cabins located, diplomatically, equidistant from the president’s residence. During the 1978 negotiations, Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin stayed in Birch while Egyptian president Anwar Sadat stayed in Dogwood. Other leaders who have bunked there include Leonid Brezhnev and Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev. During Clinton’s 2000 Middle East peace summit, PLO chairman Yasser Arafat occupied Dogwood, and Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak occupied Birch, both for over two weeks.

The interiors of both cabins are cozy but modern, each with two bedrooms, stone fireplaces, a kitchenette, and closets with the signature Camp David jackets and bathrobes, which at times disappeared into guest suitcases and have had to be retrieved.

Further along the scenic camp road is historic Holly cabin, which was originally named Laurel until the new Laurel was built. The revised Holly was created by connecting two smaller cabins—the goal is always to repurpose wood—but the original porch, where FDR and Churchill sat to plan D-day, remains. The interior features a large meeting room with a stone fireplace where the Camp David Accords took place. Carter chose this more intimate setting rather than the larger Laurel conference room, thinking it would encourage conversation. He also added a pool table and a movie projector, and the delegations watched fifty-eight movies during the thirteen-day summit. An office, used by the president for secure communications, is lined with bookshelves.

Down from Holly is the new Laurel cabin, built in 1972, which in many respects is the centerpiece of camp life and diplomacy. It has three conference rooms, a full kitchen, a dining room, a small presidential office, and a large family room with cozy chairs and tables. Hillary Clinton made further improvements, opening up the main room with windows that take advantage of the beautiful view. There is a piano and a beautiful antique sideboard from the 1800s added by Laura Bush. Laurel is ideal for larger gatherings, such as the big Christmas dinners both Bush families held every year of their terms. Ronald Reagan used the largest conference room to give a hundred and fifty Saturday addresses to the nation.

Somewhat separated from the guest cabins, Cedar, the CO family’s home at Camp David, is a comfortable, charming cabin with three bedrooms, a glass-enclosed sunporch, and a spacious family living area—at least, it’s spacious by Navy standards. As CO Jim Broaddus told his young sons, “We have a modest house with a great yard!” When I was CO, the quaint cabin was dated, cramped, and in need of some upgrades, and I asked the Navy to invest in its redesign and make some improvements over the next few years. Though I kicked the project off, I didn’t have to live with the inconvenience, noise, and intrusion of construction, so I give credit to the two COs after me who endured this. Today, upgraded bathrooms, a new great room, and a separate garage are used and enjoyed by the CO’s family.

Across the road from Cedar is Rosebud, which housed the Secret Service and the Soviet security team during Nikita Khrushchev’s visit in 1959. Today the interior is modernized and has the only ADA-accessible accommodations at the camp.

Other, smaller cabins include Witch Hazel, the closest one to the president’s, if not the fanciest. The Kennedys used it as a nursery for Caroline and John. Walnut, Hawthorn, Sycamore, and Linden were original cabins that were rebuilt in 1956, with indoor plumbing installed. All are used as guest quarters today.

Backtrack along the path toward the gate and you come to Hickory Lodge, the recreation center and undoubtedly one of everyone’s favorite locations. Here is the bowling alley, built by Eisenhower, and a movie theater with Barcalounger-style seats that are so plush one can imagine many movie watchers falling asleep. There is a full game room with a pool table, a library, a gift shop for purchasing souvenirs, and the Shangri-La bar and grill. A favorite delicacy at the bar when I was there was the Shangri-La Bar Frito Pie. The recipe: a bag of Fritos, a can of Hormel chili, and a sprinkling of cheese, all of it microwaved for one minute. Everyone loved that Frito pie, especially the Secret Service agents coming off of a night shift.

Right next door to Hickory is the cabin Poplar, the staff offices for the CO, executive officer (XO), command master chief (CMC), and administrative staff. Because it is close to the gate, a small lot outside allows select visitors to drive in and park there. One of my favorite artifacts in Poplar is a very large black-and-white photograph taken at the end of Eisenhower’s presidency; it shows Eisenhower with his familiar amused smile, Mamie, and the entire crew. Above and behind the historic setting on the Aspen flagstone patio are two Secret Service agents looking on, casually smoking.

My homey office in Poplar was where I would welcome and say farewell to every Sailor and Marine who reported to Camp David for duty. During my time, from 1999 to 2001, our entire staff was military, unlike the White House staff of long-serving civilian ushers, butlers, valets, housekeepers, florists, chefs, groundskeepers, and maintenance workers. All of us arrived at Camp David after an intensive screening process, yet we knew that at some point we would receive orders to our next stations, a routine that almost every military member experiences throughout his or her career. It is the military way of life, how we do our very important business for the nation, and as unique as Camp David is as an assignment, we all know that one day we will have to move on and get back to what we really do for a living. This is part of the bittersweet experience of serving at the presidential retreat, knowing that this very special time will end—and for most, that will mean never entering the camp again and having only memories and great stories to hold on to.

Among the most striking buildings at the camp is Evergreen Chapel, an octagonal structure of wood and stained glass with seating for up to one hundred and fifty people. Reagan selected the site and broke ground for it, and the chapel was completed in 1991 and dedicated by George H. W. Bush. Before the camp had its own chapel, presidents either traveled down the mountain for services or had clergy come to the camp. Breathtaking stained-glass windows frame each side of the interior, designed and created by 1936 Olympic biathlon gold medalist and renowned artist Rudolph Sandon. On the left is the Tree of Knowledge, on the right the Tree of Life, with depictions that appeal to all faiths. “When the president attends, he sits between the religious Tree of Life and the secular Tree of Knowledge,” noted the current Navy chaplain, reflecting the tension that is very dear to Americans.

There’s a tangible weight to the atmosphere at Camp David—the sights and sounds and smells, yes, but also the invisible gravitas of the place, its inimitable heft. The history that happened here—the type of history that happened here—could only have happened here, away from the barbed swelter of DC, away from the scrutiny of the press, away from the party lines and partisanship. Within Camp David is a whole hidden side of the presidency that Americans don’t know well but are definitely curious about.

The amplification of the work ethic, a puritanical standard, scorns vacation and relaxation—considers it slacking, even. Presidents inevitably get unfairly criticized for their time off, but Camp David is no more a resort than the White House is a cushy mansion. There is a special chemistry to the place that has been important for every president who has come here. Among the trees, a clearing of the chief executive’s mind is possible that results in tangible benefits for national policy.

Laura Bush, a frequent visitor, told an interviewer that what she loved about Camp David was spending time outdoors. In her words, one gets a sense of the shut-in nature of the presidency, the claustrophobia that sets in at the White House but is released at Camp David, where “there are no tourists peering through the fence.”

“To me, Camp David is more a psychological journey than a physical one,” Lady Bird Johnson once said. “I leave my troubles outside the gate.”

There are many moments that capture the flavor of Camp David for me, but I’ll always remember one in particular. It was January 2001, right before George W. Bush’s inauguration. President Clinton wanted to come up and be at Aspen a little bit and have some downtime to go through personal things and pack up before the move date. As a career military officer, I’ve done this countless times in my career, and I thought to myself, Yeah, makes sense. Even the president has to pack up his stuff before he moves. For this visit, I asked Lieutenant Commander John Coronado, our executive officer, to handle the arrival at the landing zone; I would wait in Aspen to greet the president with the Aspen steward. It was a nice opportunity for the XO. Normally, the command master chief (Kevin Timmons and then George Havash during my two years) and I would be at the landing zone, and Coronado would be at Aspen. That’s how a typical visit would start, especially if the president arrived on Marine One.

It was a brilliantly sunny day at first, but there was snow in the forecast, and soon it started to fall. Throughout the morning, the snow came down heavier and heavier, and it became obvious that the trip by air would be scrubbed. It was doubtful that the president would take the time to travel by motorcade.

Waiting in Aspen, the fire glowing, I looked out the picture window to a robust snow falling peacefully onto the lawn with the eastern view of the land beyond. Feeling the sense of something big about to happen and standing in the president’s cabin with everything ready to go, this was probably one of the most dreamlike experiences I ever had at Camp David. I was used to the scene by then, but the beauty and wonder were still capable of catching me off guard.


  • Praise for Inside Camp David

    "Inside Camp David gives a first-hand account of the president's most private retreat from an author who ran it. Camp David is part sanctuary, part office, and part vacation destination. Giorgione captures life at the exclusive retreat and offers a glimpse into the lives of presidents and their families when they're seeking a respite from the spotlight."—Kate Andersen Brower, New York Times bestselling author of The Residence and First Women
  • "A captivating stroll through the storied Maryland mountain retreat seen through the eyes of the Sailors, Marines, gardeners, cooks, handymen and their families who catered to the presidents. Rear Admiral Michael Giorgione, a charming raconteur, takes us behind the scenes and shows why, from Kennedy to Obama, presidents found Camp David (aka Naval Support Facility Thurmont) the ideal place for both white-knuckle international diplomacy and desperately-needed decompression: a walk in these woods can restore presidential sanity."—Chris Whipple, New York Times bestselling author of The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency
  • "No one has a better understanding of this mountain retreat than the Commanding Officer. Inside Camp David provides an insight into life at this secret hideaway used by presidents and their families over the years. It is an accurate portrayal of life as it is lived by the Commander in Chief away from the White House."—Clint Hill, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Five Presidents
  • "Toasts a great perk of the presidency, one that almost none of us will ever see... Full of firsthand glimpses into a secret world and fresh insights that may delight even the most politically cynical among us."—Adeel Hassan, New York Times
  • "Just the presidential memoir America needs right now."—Garrett M. Graff, Wall Street Journal
  • A "pop history of a vacation spot with a strictly limited clientele.... An easygoing... visit to a place where presidents are 'more reflective, playful, and energized by the hills and forests that surround them.'"—Kirkus
  • "A complete yet personal history... This intelligent and recommended account is sure to appeal to readers of presidential biographies and American history buffs in general."—Library Journal
  • "In this intimate and informative book, Giorgione blends the presidential with the personal and casts a loving eye on a seldom seen but consequential place... With grace, candor and humor, he makes what, in academic hands, could have been dry as dust, breathe with life."—Jay Strafford, Richmond Times-Dispatch
  • "Giorgione weaves palace intrigue, personal reflections from former commanding officers at the camp and histories of the retreat and Thurmont... A glimpse of little-known histories."—Danielle E. Gaines, The Frederick News-Post

On Sale
Oct 24, 2017
Hachette Audio

Michael Giorgione

About the Author

Newt Gingrich is a former Speaker of the House and 2012 presidential candidate. He is a Fox News contributor and author of thirty-six books, including fifteen New York Times bestsellers. Through Gingrich Productions, he has also produced and hosted documentary films. Recent films include The First American and Nine Days that Changed the World. Newt Gingrich lives in Arlington, Virginia.

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