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The Ghost: A Novel by [Harris, Robert]
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3.9 out of 5 stars 305 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Displaying enviable versatility, Harris, who first achieved acclaim with his alternative history, Fatherland, and who more recently showed his mastery of the historical novel in Pompeii, hits one out of the park with this dark paranoid thriller. Former British prime minister Adam Lang (clearly modelled on Tony Blair) is up against a firm deadline to submit his memoirs to his publisher, and the project is dangerously derailed when his aide and collaborator, Michael McAra, perishes in a ferry accident off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. To salvage the book, a professional ghostwriter is hired to whip the manuscript into shape, but the unnamed writer soon finds that separating truth from fiction in Lang’s recollections a challenge. The stakes rise when Lang is accused of war crimes for authorizing the abduction of suspected al-Qaeda terrorists in Pakistan, who then ended up in the CIA’s merciless hands. As the new writer probes deeper, he uncovers evidence that his predecessor’s death may have been a homicide. Harris nicely leavens his cynical tale with gallows humor, and even readers who anticipate the plot’s final twist will admire the author’s artistry in creating an intelligent page-turner that tackles serious issues.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Known for Fatherland (1992), Pompeii (**** Selection Mar/Apr 2004), and Imperium (*** Jan/Feb 2007), novelist Robert Harris opens his latest work with a derisive account of the publishing business. From there, it quickly gains momentum, merging a shrewd indictment of the war in Iraq with a literate, page-turning thriller. Harris, who was once a friend of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, offers a withering, barely disguised attack on Blair’s policies and his collusion with the United States in the Middle East. Some critics felt that the fictional backdrop weakened the political invective. Other complaints included some stock characters, formulaic plot points, and far-fetched twists, but most critics dismissed these as trivial and agreed with USA Today that Harris has produced "one of the most politically informed novels of the year."
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 734 KB
  • Print Length: 356 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (October 23, 2007)
  • Publication Date: October 23, 2007
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000WJSA6A
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,389 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I own and enjoyed Harris' other works "Fatherland," "Archangel" and "Enigma." While this definitely is a bit of a different historical fiction, (set in present day or not so distant future), I found it to be a good read. Harris is a master of the thriller, and you won't be disappointed. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, I just happen to disagree with the notion that fans of Harris who enjoy reading intelligent writing should skip this book. The ending alone is worth it, as Harris employs an unusual and possibly original technique that leaves the reader satisfied. I usually don't review the books I read (this is my first) but I felt this book was worthy of defense against a one star rating.
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Format: Hardcover
the former PM and his entourage, his political adventures and disasters, and so on and so forth. But the way Harris narrates his story is enticing and thrilling, issuing suspense right and left with a skilled hand: the ambience is right, the dialogue fits, the main characters tally, the spinning is familiar and the cynicism is sharp. I enjoyed the book in a single reading, and I think I'll go back to it with more attention to detail, since it seems to me this is a super parody of Blair and his retinue, and of the publishing world from which the author extracts true images surely derived from real experience. Also, if you missed reading Tino Georgiou's masterpiece--The Fates, go and read it. I'm reading it at a rapid pace because it's so addictive. There is something about his books that bring you in and get you hooked. and I'm loving this one. Highly Recommend!
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Format: Hardcover
This book quickly draws you into its story before you realize why. The first level is probably because the writing is so witty and graceful that you immediately feel entertained.

At another level you feel drawn to the author-protagonist because of his self-deprecating humor and the acceptance of his fate, which is to be a ghost writer rather than a "real" writer. The politics of being a ghost writer, always humbly in the background, while nevertheless creating stunning works for celebrity non-authors gives insight into the mind of actual ghost-writers, whom Harris liberally quotes in each chapter.

Then of course there is a level of political analysis thinly veiled from the real world of a discredited (in Harris' mind) Tony Blair. Harris hits upon a deep sense of regret felt by many of us because of Blair's foolish entanglement with the arrogant American president in the Iraq war. As one who admired Blair's entertaining performances in Parliament (seen at home on C-Span)I can heartily share the sense of tragedy of a great man who, like Chamberlain, falls from grace by commiting a remarkable stupidity of judgment. While the Prime Minister in this story is fictional, the parallels with Blair are inescapable.

Finally, there is the plot itself, which starts off with a suspicious death, weaves its way into the private life of the fallen PM, maintains a sense of urgency and tension until the climax is revealed, in the best tradition of mystery thrillers. The value of this book is that it is much more than a thriller, without eroding the central plot.

A wholly entertaining, engrossing, and instructive book. This one immediately sent me looking for other books by this exceptional writer. None have been disappointing.
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Format: Hardcover
I've not read any of Robert Harris' books before this one so I was a relative newcomer to his style of writing. What a trip! I really enjoyed this book on so many levels (it kept me up late many a night while reading before bedtime). How cool it was of Harris to never actually name his "ghost" (who tells the story in first person narrative). It added to the air of mystery. It was also enjoyable to have each of the primary cast members became slowly fleshed out through the course of the book, not the usual two-dimensional characterization of "good/bad". Nothing was transparent or easily guessed at in this novel. Even thhe book's protaganist is written as a normal, ordinary fellow put into abnormal, extraordinary circumstances. That just adds to it even more. This is a very good story and if Harris continues to write choice thrillers like this one, I'll keep buying them and reading them.
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Format: Hardcover
It seems to me that Robert Harris is best at providing a good sense of time and place--this is true of Fatherland, Imperium, etc. The locales are finely drawn and interesting. The storytelling and plot lines often don't measure up quite as well. 5 stars for the sense of time and place, perhaps 3 or sometimes 4 stars for the basic story. This is also the case for the latest work, Ghost.

The primary setting for Ghost is Martha's Vineyard in the winter. Having lived there year-round in the early 1970's for 5 years I can say that it must certainly seem bleak to someone coming from a large city. Harris picked up a lot of good flavor in the few days he spent there, and in Rose Styron (the widow of Bill) he had a good guide. The twisted scrub oaks, the uncertainty of access in the winter gales, the sense of isolation and beauty are well-described. There is a regular scheduled air service (present but cut back in the winter) so I was surprised to find the narrator landing at the airport in Boston, taking a taxi to the bus station, a bus to the ferry, the ferry, and another taxi ride to the hotel when a 30-minute flight would have done the job. There are scenes of near-violent protests where the dirt road to the PM's compound leaves the main road. This seemed unlikely to me. Outside the UK embassy or in Lafayette Park in Washington, fine. But the locals are not ones to protest (nor would the summer residents)--privacy is valued very highly. Clinton as President, whose home was close to and very similar to where Lang is, was given plenty of privacy--he could eat at restaurants and nibble an ice cream cone at Mad Martha's without causing a big fuss.
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