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Norman Mailer: Harlot’s Ghost

Norman does the CIA! This book is 1282 pages and it is only the first part (I couldn’t be bothered to read Oswald’s Tale, the second part. Poor Norman just does not know when to shut up). Based somewhat on real CIA activities, such as spying in Berlin, the Bay of Pigs and the attempted assassination of Fidel Castro, with real personages, such as James Jesus Angleton and William King Harvey, the novel is the story of CIA operative Harry Hubbard. His godfather is the demonic CIA boss, Hugh Tremont Montague, who keeps popping up and always seems to be up to no good. It’s all great fun and Mailer does an excellent job of describing the skulduggery, with a certain amount of sympathy and a lot of humour. If you are fascinated by the CIA, you may well enjoy this book if you can wade through the 1282 pages (it’s more in paperback!) but for the rest of us, it’s a bit hard going.

Publishing history

First published 1991 by Random House