Synopses & Reviews
Born in 1923 in Long Branch, New Jersey, and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Norman Mailer was one of the most influential writers of the second half of the twentieth century and a leading public intellectual for nearly sixty years. He is the author of more than thirty books. The Castle in the Forest, his last novel, was his eleventh New York Times bestseller. His first novel, The Naked and the Dead, has never gone out of print. His 1968 nonfiction narrative, The Armies of the Night, won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. He won a second Pulitzer for The Executioner’s Song and is the only person to have won Pulitzers in both fiction and nonfiction. Five of his books were nominated for National Book Awards, and he won a lifetime achievement award from the National Book Foundation in 2005. Mr. Mailer died in 2007 in New York City.
"Those who quail at the prospect of a 1400-page novel by the author of Ancient Evenings and Tough Guys Don't Dance need have no fear. Mailer's newest effort, a mammoth imagining of the CIA that puts all previous fictions about the Agency in the shade, reads like an express train. Never has he written more swiftly and surely, more vividly and with less existential clutter. A contemporary picaresque yarn, Harlot's Ghost bears more than a slight resemblance to those great 18th-century English novels that chronicle the coming-of-age of a young rogue with good connections. Harry Hubbard is a bright young man whose father and whose mentor, Hugh Montague (also known as Harlot), are both senior CIA figures and induct him into the Agency. Most of the book, after a melodramatic beginning, is one long flashback, Harry's autobiographical account of his early career partly in his own words, partly in an exchange of letters with Harlot's beautiful, brilliant wife, Kittredge, whom Harry admires from afar and will one day steal. He is seen in training in the '50s under real-life figures like Allen Dulles and Dick Bissell, and with the martini-swigging, pistol-toting William Harvey at his first post in Berlin where he meets Dix Butler, who becomes in a sense his nemesis. A quiet spell in Montevideo under Howard Hunt follows, then he goes to Washington, where he watches the Bay of Pigs fiasco and the Cuban missile crisis develop and becomes the lover of President Kennedy's mistress. The book winds down with Kennedy's assassination and a sense of growing despair, only to conclude with a gnomic 'To Be Continued.' Whether or not there is really to be a sequel, Harlot's Ghost is entirely self-contained, and a bravura performance. In an author's note listing his voluminous sources and the relation of fictional to nonfictional characters, Mailer claims that good fiction 'is more real, more nourishing to our sense of reality, than nonfiction.' The book is an utterly convincing portrait of that strange, snobbish, macho, autocratic collection of brainy misfits who have played so large and often tragic a role in American history." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The most daring, ambitious and by far the best written of the several very long, daring and ambitious books Norman Mailer has so far produced....Unlike just about every American writer since Henry James, Mailer has managed to grow and become richer in wisdom with each new book. There can no longer be any doubt that he possesses the largest mind and imagination at work in American literature today." Chicago Tribune
"To call Mailer's CIA novel a spy story would be like calling Moby Dick a whaling story. If you are seeking myriad details about how The Agency really operates, you will find them here, but Mailer has always sought the nuances that give facts their essential meaning, and that is what makes this book so much more than just another CIA expose."
"The Big One, volume one (yes, 1,408 pages!) of Mailer's long-promised masterpiece, in which he does for the CIA what Melville did for mammals and God, and what Thomas Mann did for the metaphysics of tuberculosis."
Narrated by Harry Hubbard, a second-generation CIA man, Harlot's Ghost looks into the depths of the American soul and the soul of Hugh Tremont Montague, code name Harlot, a CIA man obsessed. And Harry is about to discover how far the madness will go and what it means to the Agency and the country....A Main Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club.
This novel of the CIA centers on Hugh Tremont Montague, a CIA patrician with a core of madness
As the protege of the legendary intelligence officer Hugh Tremont Montague--known as Harlot--Harry Hubbard is transformed by his life of subterfuge and delusion and is drawn into a life of moral purpose. Reprint. NYT. PW.
About the Author
Norman Mailer is an American novelist, journalist, playwright, screenwriter and film director who, along with Truman Capote and Tom Wolfe, is considered an innovator of creative nonfiction, a genre sometimes called New Journalism. He has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.