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The obscure 1965 novel where the U.S. president goes insane

Following Wednesday’s Op-Ed in the New York Times by an anonymous member of the Trump administration, AbeBooks.com has seen strong interest in an obscure out-of-print novel from 1965 about a US president who may be mentally ill.

Night of Camp David by Fletcher Knebel carries text on the front cover that reads: “What would happen if the President of the U.S.A. went stark raving mad?”

The novel was referenced widely on social media on Wednesday after the New York Times article described the president’s “erratic” behavior.

Night of Camp David was the most searched for book on AbeBooks.com on Wednesday.  Every copy priced under $15 sold. Only a handful of highly priced copies remain. It was last published in 1980 by HarperCollins.

The story is told from the viewpoint of Jim MacVeigh, an Iowa senator, who begins to doubt the sanity of president Mark Hollenbach.  The president’s erratic ideas include wiretapping every phone in the US, and merging the US, Canada and Scandinavia. (Imagine if Donald Trump proposed a new nation called Candinavia!)

This 2017 review on Medium may have sparked some of the interest.

Hollenbach takes every slight or feeling of disappointment he feels toward people around him and weaves them together into a perception that he is under attack at all times by a conspiracy.

Fletcher Knebel (1911-1993) specialized in political fiction featuring dramatic events. He also wrote a novel in 1962 called Seven Days in May about a military coup in the United States, which was adapted into a film starring Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas and Ava Gardner.

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