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Harlot's Ghost

A Novel

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


With unprecedented scope and consummate skill, Norman Mailer unfolds a rich and riveting epic of an American spy. Harry Hubbard is the son and godson of CIA legends. His journey to learn the secrets of his society—and his own past—takes him through the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the “momentous catastrophe” of the Kennedy assassination. All the while, Hubbard is haunted by women who were loved by both his godfather and President Kennedy. Featuring a tapestry of unforgettable characters both real and imagined, Harlot’s Ghost is a panoramic achievement in the tradition of Tolstoy, Melville, and Balzac, a triumph of Mailer’s literary prowess.
Praise for Harlot’s Ghost
“[Norman Mailer is] the right man to exalt the history of the CIA into something better than history.”—Anthony Burgess, The Washington Post Book World
“Elegantly written and filled with almost electric tension . . . When I returned from the world of Harlot’s Ghost to the present I wished to be enveloped again by Mailer’s imagination.”—Robert Wilson, USA Today
“Immense, fascinating, and in large part brilliant.”—Salman Rushdie, The Independent on Sunday
“A towering creation . . . a fiction as real and as possible as actual history.”The New York Times
Praise for Norman Mailer
“[Norman Mailer] loomed over American letters longer and larger than any other writer of his generation.”The New York Times
“A writer of the greatest and most reckless talent.”The New Yorker
“Mailer is indispensable, an American treasure.”The Washington Post
“A devastatingly alive and original creative mind.”Life
“Mailer is fierce, courageous, and reckless and nearly everything he writes has sections of headlong brilliance.”The New York Review of Books
“The largest mind and imagination [in modern] American literature . . . Unlike just about every American writer since Henry James, Mailer has managed to grow and become richer in wisdom with each new book.”Chicago Tribune
“Mailer is a master of his craft. His language carries you through the story like a leaf on a stream.”The Cincinnati Post

From the Trade Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Sep 30, 1991 – 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. BOMC main selection; first serial to Rolling Stone.

Customer Reviews

One of my favorite books

Haven't tried ebook but I bought the hardback when it was published. Fiction around the skeleton of fact of the early CIA.

Excellent read

Time spotlights the Highlites

By now Mailer has mastered the rhythms of the high life and the low lifes. No excess flexing of knowledge or muscles. Just tell a good story with a useful narrator, like Nick Carroway.
In 2016 we have seen Cuba and watched Fidel
Outlast the West. He is gone, Raul is going and a good history may be possible. We, the US,
Can still screw it up. They, whoever they become can screw it up.
We can guess there will be secrets, romance and old men protecting turf, while young men try to get a piece.

Harlot's Ghost
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary
  • Published: Oct 02, 1991
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 1168 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings