The White House Situation Room is arguably the most important facility in the most important building in the world. As the president’s intelligence and alert center, it provides vital communication and crisis management capabilities to the chief executive and his advisers. It can also be “an island of calm,” as a top adviser for Vice President Al Gore once described it. So little is known about the Situation Room that, until the publication of Nerve Center, the American public’s knowledge of it is almost entirely based on its portrayal by the entertainment industry.
Yet, as Michael K. Bohn points out, Hollywood has failed to capture the real drama of the Situation Room. Numerous crises come alive in Nerve Center, from the Vietnam War (when President Johnson made late night visits to the Situation Room wearing his pajamas and went so often that he moved his Oval Office chair there), to the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan, to today’s high-tech war on terrorism. Created in the aftermath of the Bay of Pigs fiasco by advisers to President John Kennedy, presidents, cabinet members, and National Security Council staff members have all come to depend on the Situation Room. “I knew that I could always rely on the Situation Room,” President Jimmy Carter recalled, “and it never let me down.”
Bohn, who served as director of the Situation Room for the first President George Bush, has recruited numerous officials, including former and current staff, to tell the colorful forty-year history of the Situation Room. In a final chapter, Bohn uses a fictional crisis to describe how the Situation Room will evolve to help the president meet the challenges of an increasingly dangerous future.
About the Author(s)/Editor(s)
Michael K. Bohn's latest book, Money Golf: 600 Years of Bettin’ on Birdies (Potomac Books, Inc., 2007), was one of Golf Digest’s top golf books of 2007. A freelance writer, Bohn is the golf reporter for nineteen weeklies in Northern Virginia. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia.
“I can think of no group of people who have served with as much loyalty, professionalism, and dedication as the men and women of the Situation Room. Nerve Center tells the story of these people and gives the reader a vivid and unprecedented tour of the fascinating world of the White House Situation Room.”
Henry A. Kissinger, former Secretary of State and National Security Adviser to Presidents Nixon and Ford
“The book provides a fascination insider’s view of this legendary facility –truly the stuff of history.”
Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, USAF (Ret.), National Security Adviser to Presidents Ford and George H. W. Bush
“Whether you simply appreciate a good read filled with interesting anecdotes or are a serious historian of the White House, you will enjoy this book. It both demystifies and puts a human face on the ‘Sit Room,’ while paying fitting tribute to the men and women who so ably have served there.”
Anthony Lake, Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, and National Security Adviser to President Clinton
Table of Contents:
1. It’s Not Just A Room
2. Origins: JFK and The Bay Of Pigs
3. Alerting: The 2:00 A.M. Phone Call
4. Communications: The President Is Calling
5. The Conference Room: Meetings In The Woodshed
6. Crisis Management: War and Terrorism
7. Reporting: “Good Morning, Mr. President”
8. Personnel: Ringside Seats
9. The White House Help Desk
10. The Future Situation Room
Appendix: Presidents, National Security Advisers, and Situation Room Directors, 1961-2002
About The Author