on October 29, 2007
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!
After a number of historic-fiction masterpieces, ROBERT HARRIS came back with a novel that, although a work of fiction, cuts too close to the bone for comfort. In a thinly veiled reference to the Prime Ministry of Tony Blair, a number of troublesome issues are raised.
For fear of spoiling the story one can only ask: why do democratically elected leaders take one after the other unpopular decisions? Who are they trying to please if (clearly) not the people that put them into office? Why even socialist/democratic/leftist parties once elected follow in the footsteps of the right-wing hawks they overthrew by popular demand?
As a piece of word-craft I found it not at par with HARRIS' previous work. As a novel of political possibility though I found it brilliant! It happens all the time in third world countries, why not in the central republics? After all, greed and ambitions are universal.
Art Matters: The Art of Knowledge/The Knowledge of Art
Natural Law, Science, and the Social Construction of Reality
I don't have too much to add to the other reviews but since I enjoyed the book so much I wanted to add my two cents worth.
Yes, it is obvious the Prime Minister is based on Tony Blair, the right wing labor man. But, for me, that was not the heart of the story, for it could have been any recent world leader who got caught up in the sphere of American foreign policy.
The British ex PM is on an island off New England in the winter where he has complete solitude. The security is also strong. The long time aide of the pm, who was writing the book, is found dead and so a new ghost writer has to be hired. This death leads to an interesting development later in the book.
We learn a lot about this writer, his girl friend, his life in London, and his pushy agent who gets him the job. The money is fantastic, and though even contemplating working for this ex pm leads to his girl breaking up with him, he flies off to the States to get to work.
The memoirs themselves are not important, but in researching background, especially in the dead man's files, interesting things come up, which contradict the story the ex pm is telling. But as a ghost writer, he knows that the details may not be important, the story that the author wants to tell is what is important.
And then the bombshell hits. A former cabinet minister and friend of the ex pm lets out very damaging information that could lead to criminal prosecution. I will not give the details away, but it involves complicity with American foreign policy.
The book then becomes both s suspense thriller and a political thriller, rushing to a great conclusion.
A great read for lovers of political intrigue, good mysteries, and conspiracy theorists.
Ghost has multiple meanings in this story to the point of becoming obvious and overdone. Nevertheless, Mr. Harris provides an excellent read that never becomes obvious or over-written. Ghost is a reference to the occupation of the main character, a ghost-writer hired to complete the work of another ghost-writer who had been ghosting a memoir of the ex-Prime Minister of Britain, Adam Lang just retired after leading his country into a losing war in a mid-east country with, the United States and, like Tony Blair, no one knows his motivation. And so, may I introduce Robert Harris whose novel provides an explanation that makes more sense than real life.
In "The Ghost" the popular writer, Robert Harris, takes his reader through a suspenseful and chilling tale of political intrigue, international war crimes, shady characters, conspiracy plots and moments of raw courage. This novel has some appealing features that recommend it as a good solid read for those of us who need to see the geopolitical problems of this world in a different light. Here are ten aspects of this blockbuster story that might catch your eye in this work that achieves a nice balance of fact and fiction, real and the unreal, and innocence and betrayal:
1. The story involves a former British PM hiring a ghost writer to complete his memoirs by a certain day. The reader does not have to guess that the PM in question is none other than Tony Blair trying to get on the record before new revelations come to light over his sanctioning of torture of Al Qaeda prisoners. Right from the outset, the reader knows that the bases for this narrative is based on an actual historical chain of events involving real people;
2. The triggering event in the novel is the mysterious death of the PM's earlier ghostwriter. His replacement, the narrator of the story, steps in to to complete the writing do his own sluething while he quietly goes about probing for answers while guiding the lengthy memoir to its conclusion;
3. The story continues to mount in intensity as murders and disappearances pile up in conjunction with the ongoing investigation of McAra's death. It is during this time that the Hague Court charges the former PM with war crimes. This causes the ghost writer to begin questioning the evidence as to how it will all fit into his compiling of the story;
4. As usual, Robert Harris deals with main characters who don't always make the right choices, even when faced with a mountain of evidence to the contrary;
5. What the protagonist discovers in his internet reseach and from his important contacts is that the man, whose life he is trying to reconstruct on paper, is leading a double life;
6. The character development is both thorough and believable. The new ghost writer, for instance, is someone willing to put his life at risk in the search for the truth about his boss's nefarious activity, but is seriously restrained by his sense of loyalty to the PM and his training as a ghost writer;
7. Harris's description of Martha's Vineyard as one of two main places in the story is accurate and meaningful;
8. Harris concludes the story in powerful fashion where the ghost writer plays by the rules of engagement and anonymously leaves his interpretation of the former PMs life behind for others to pick over;
9. Harris raises a whole bunch of issues that deal with the need for a means by which to enforce international law in relation to crimes against humanity;
10. The description about secret societies is conceivable given the fact that we have organizations like the Bilderberg and the Trilateral Commission working outside the pale of the rule of law.
"The Ghost" is a ghostwriter. A ghostwriter who stumbles across many secrets while working on a project: finishing up the memoirs of Britain's former Prime Minister, Adam Lang. Someone else had previously embarked in this task, but his body washed up dead on a deserted beach in an exclusive holiday retreat in the US, Martha's Vineyard.
This book is a very good political thriller, starting off a bit slowly, but it picks up speed as you read on, becoming a page-turner. Certainly a well-tailored book, which will keep you glued to the pages. The end is so surprising it will make you stare into space.
Well done to the author, good, solid entertainment, a plausible and clever story which will make you ponder over the (at times) self-complacent stance of power in the political world. My true vote: 4.5 stars.
on March 15, 2011
Without any doubt, Robert Harris is presently my favourite fiction author.
His novels read as I imagine an Aston Martin drives: authentic power, ingenuity and beauty in a no-nonsense way.
Artful craftsmanship is consistent in every detail of the novel, balanced by the deceptive simplicity in its structure.
The tension winds swiftly on right to the final page, where, as usual, Harris punctuates the action with a thoughtful - almost poetic - flourish to keep you reflecting on the characters for days afterword. This is one to share.
The Ghost has finally spurred me on to write a review about Harris' novels. For any casual reader of History, or anyone who prefers non-fiction to fiction most of the time, reading a Robert Harris novel should scarcely disappoint.
I've read a bunch of Harris' other novels and strongly recommend any of them, but most notably Pompeii, Lustrum, Archangel, and Fatherland.
One can easily sense the cinematic quality in all of of Harris' writing. Still, the novels surely stand tall in their own right. Highly recommended.
on November 24, 2014
Definitely a great read. I've read other books by Robert Harris including Fatherland and Conspirarta (aka Imperium) which I also enjoyed.
In The Ghost, Harris weaves together plots and subplots skillfully with enough realism that everything in the book seems entirely plausible. The characters are all believable and have a unique voice - something I find strangely lacking in a lot of stuff i read.
I'll always have a Robert Harris book on my "next purchases" list - he does not disappoint
on June 22, 2015
This book provides an unexpected access to the intimacy of a former British Prime Minister. The aloofness, the mystery and the force of power is described masterfully. Each character is complex and lively and we are forced to consider them as "real" persons. "The Ghost" is a drama that grips your attention since the first page and holds it firmly until the last sentence. It is Robert Harris best book with "Fatherland".
on December 16, 2014
The Ghost is a study of the distinction between unnatural paranoia and calculated manipulation, distortions so odd as to ring true.
I enjoyed the author's sharp wit, irony, and deep understanding of greed for power. From the first page, a great book!
Eleanor Cowan, author of :