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Hugh Tremont Montague - code name HARLOT - is one of the grand old men of the CIA, a man obsessed and nearly - but not quite - the WASP patrician he seems to be. The narrator of Harlot's story is Harry Hubbard, whose famous father also belongs to the foudning generation of the CIA. Harry lives in the shadow of both men, but what he does not sense is the core of madness fromwhich Harlot's remarkable energies emanate, and the demons at the heart of American history...

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780349103181
ISBN-10: 0349103186
Format: Paperback
(196mm x 120mm x 46mm)
Pages: 1408
Imprint: Abacus
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publish Date: 11-Jan-1992
Country of Publication: United Kingdom


US Kirkus Review » 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. A small serving of potted plot: Herrick (Harry) Hubbard has been raised in the thickish atmosphere of the CIA, which his Hemingwayesque father, Cal, helped deliver out of WW II's OSS. Harry's godfather is CIA overseer Hugh Tremont Montague, a Christian Einstein of spycraft, who may also be the Devil. Hugh is married to Hadley Kittredge Gardiner (named after Hemingway's first wife, Hadley Richardson, and the great Shakespearean scholar George Kittredge). Harry loves Kittredge and marries her after Hugh breaks his back and causes the death of his son in a climbing accident. All this happens before the novel begins and will be told in detail in volume two. In fact, Kittredge abandons Harry for boorish CIA superman Dix Butler in the novel's overture and Harry hides out in the Bronx to write volume one. All this is framework for the stuff of the story, which tells of Harry's early years in the CIA (1956-63), during which he is sent to Berlin to work under fabled spymaster William King Harvey, a genius now gone to gin, then to Florida to work on the Bay of Pigs invasion, then into Operation Mongoose, the assassination of Fidel Castro. And during these latter ops, he falls for Modene Murphy (who's modeled on Judith Exner, mistress to Frank Sinatra, Godfather Sam Giancana, and JFK). The novel ends with Harry setting up Castro's murder just as JFK is assassinated. That's it, but it tells you nothing about the sorcery of the telling, with Mailer's novelistic gifts working at full mastery, his magic with moods, metaphor and touches of color (his Havana harbor rivals Enobarbus's description of Cleopatra's barge), his genius for character and matted plotting, humor, and gripping flights of philosophy (far more lively than The Magic Mountain's) with the CIA seen as "the mind of America." (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Norman Mailer

Normal Mailer is a Pulizter Prize winning novelist who redifined the concept of literary non-fiction. He has also directed four feature length films. He died in November 2007.

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