A novel by Norman Mailer
Synopsis by Steven Travers
Screenwriter Steven Travers proposes adapting Norman Mailer's magnum opus, "Harlot's Ghost", into a blockbuster screenplay. The story revolves around Herrick "Harry" Hubbard. Harry was raised to become a crack CIA agent. His father is a career Company man, and he comes under the wing of his Godfather and mentor, Hugh Tremont Montague (bases on James Jesus Angleton). Montague, also known as Harlot, shepherds him through the Ivy League and into the cloistered, early 1950s world of the Central Intelligence Agency. A battle for Harry's "soul" occurs between his father and Harlot.
Harry falls in love with the beautiful and redoubtable Kitteredge, who has also come under Harlot's spell. Kitteredge becomes a CIA psycho-analyst, charged with getting to the root of male-female differences by studying the Alpha and Omega of human personality. She marries the older Harlot, and has a long affair with Harry, all of it supposedly kept "secret" from Harlot.
Harry matures into a top CIA operative. His station assignments take him to Latin America, where the Company orchestrates political overthrows and fights a desperate propaganda war against Communist insurgents. The CIA in the 1950s is composed of pipe-smoking, tweed-coated Ivy Leaguers obsessed with defeating atheistic Marxist-Stalinists in every corner of the globe. They go by a staunch code of Episcopalian Christianity, convinced beyond all doubt that they fight on the side of good against the worst possible evil. They are the new Church of America, where the secrets are kept.
Harry's assignments range from Latin America to Berlin to Washington, D.C. to the Bay of Pigs. He works closely with real-life historical figures, such as Watergate "plumber" E. Howard Hunt. He is directed to start an affair with a beautiful femme fatale based on Judith Campbell Exner, and becomes a CIA liaison/spy between the Company, John F. Kennedy and a Sam Giancana character.
Eventually, Kitteredge divorces Harlot and marries Harry. Harlot dies in mysterious circumstances, just as Harry is learning of a nefarious plot to assassinate President Kennedy. His failed attempts to get to the bottom of the assassination plans before they are carried out, mixed with his "taking" the young wife from his mentor, represent the loss of innocence in an end-of-Camelot scenario.