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The Ghost

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  7,207 ratings  ·  848 reviews
The stunning new novel from the No. 1 bestselling author of Fatherland; Enigma; Archangel; Pompeii and Imperium.

“The moment I heard how McAra died I should have walked away. I can see that now. I should have said, ‘Rick, I’m sorry, this isn’t for me, I don’t like the sound of it,’ finished my drink and left. But he was such a good storyteller, Rick — I often thought he sh
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published October 30th 2007 by Hutchinson (first published October 23rd 2007)
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Community Reviews

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Tim "The Enchanter"
Posted to The Literary

It's All about the Finish - 3.5 Stars

This book had the misfortune of being read after Robert Harris' far superior An Officer and A Spy . Regardless, The Ghost is a great novel in its own right. While it does not contain the fullness of what I consider to be a better novel, it is compact and straight to the point. It is filled with conspiracy which leaves you guessing until the end.

Plot summary

Our main character is a Ghost, or more appropriately, a profess
Dennis D.
To me, a good thriller can be like a colonic...something breezy and unsubstantial to flush the system out, especially if one has just finished something bloated and ponderous (I'm talking about YOU, Tree of Smoke)!

"The Ghost" is a good thriller. A recently retired-from-office British Prime Minister hires a ghost-writer (duh- because the story is written in the first person, I never noticed that the name of the narrator/protagonist is never supplied) to help him write his memoirs. Our hero is the
I supposed this was a roman a clef since Harris was –as mentioned everywhere- a former friend of the Blairs. It’s just a thriller with enough links with what we think is the reality of politics to feel as fact. And he wields a scalpel on them with finesse and venom. An ex British PM is “writing” his memoirs with the help of a former aide who is found drowned in an apparent suicide. Enters a professional ghost-writer, the first person narrator of the novel, whose name we never found out. And then ...more
Sean Peters
Another first read author for me, I guess Robert Harris most well known book, as well as a film, I think realised in the USA as The Ghost Writer.

Britain's former prime minister is holed up in a remote, ocean-front house in America, struggling to finish his memoirs, when his long-term assistant drowns. A professional ghost writer is sent out to rescue the project - a man more used to working with fading rock stars and minor celebrities than ex-world leaders. The ghost soon discovers that his dist
Lance Greenfield
For the most part, this is a story which will draw you in and keep your attention, but I felt that it petered out a bit towards the end.

I don't know why there is any discussion amongst readers about whether any parallels can be drawn between this fictional world and real world politics. The basis for the story is so blatantly obvious. Adam Lang is, beyond doubt, a parody of Tony Blair. Ruth is Cheri. And so on.

The story is narrated in the first person by the ghost writer who is commissioned to w

The Ghost by Robert Harris.

A roller-coaster of a book - and not in a good way.

I like Robert Harris books and I loved his last one - Imperium. I loved it so much that I was really looking forward to the next in the series (neil h. informed me that it was part of a trilogy). Therefore I was a little meh about the fact he had taken time out to write The Ghost. Damn writers and their need to write a story instead of the one I wanted to read! However, there was branch of Borders shutting down t'other
James Schubring
The Ghost by Robert Harris is the first book about a writer that I can remember getting excited to read, glad to trumpet, and eager to put on my 'must read again' list.

It's tough to write a novel about a writer. Most of writing is, unfortunately, solitary and tedious. Write a line, hate it, delete it, rewrite it. A lot of bad literary fiction treats the writerly life, as stumped writers write about what they know: writing badly. This novel is about a ghostwriter who specializes in doing fast mem
Mike Kimera
"The Ghost" is well written. The comments on writing and what it means to be a ghost writer resonate as truthful. The metaphors are a little fanciful sometimes but fit well into the text.

Unfortunately, the book disappoints for four reasons:

The central premise of the book - the mystery which I will not share here - is clever and cleverly managed but, in many ways, the secret this British PM who went to war with Iraq is hiding is much less shocking than the behaviour of actual British Prime Minis
This is a topical thriller with a British Prime Minister politically based on Tony Blair (I have no idea about the personal stuff). At the beginning of his career he was nearly as popular as Obama. At the end, he was reviled as a puppet of the US. He is writing his memoirs, and naturally everyone wants to know the truth about the War on Terror--except, of course, those who don't want their secrets revealed. As thrillers go, this one is fairly low-key--more psychological than action. I really lik ...more
Susan Johnson
Although I had Pierce Brosnan firmly in my mind as I read this, it was still an interesting read and kept my attention. The story involves a professional ghost writer who is brought in to finish the "autobiography" of a former British Prime Minister. The former ghost writer recently died and there is a publishing deadline looming.

There is an investigation of some of the former leader's activities and the action becomes fast paced and dangerous. The players seem to fit the stereotypical roles
Jacquelynn Luben
With serendipitous timing, my book circle read ‘The Ghost’ by Robert Harris, this month. Serendipitous, because the main character of the book is someone engaged to be the ghost writer of the ex-Prime Minister of the UK, who resembles to a certain extent our own ex-Prime Minister, Tony Blair. In the novel, he is accused of crimes relating to extraordinary rendition, which, of course, has been in the news again quite recently. In addition, we have just observed the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the ...more
I purchased this paperback somewhat accidentally. It was a quick impulsive purchase enticed by a thinking error that Robert Harris was the author of the Hannibal series and now was writing British political thrillers! Silly me.

I have tried over the past two years to read and listen to this novel but could never quite get much of anywhere with it. That is until recently. Somehow, maybe it was because I had nothing else to read, i allowed myself to become hooked onto the audiobook. Exactly one wee
Johan Radzi
Ghostwriter atau Penulis Hantu adalah penulis yang menulis dibelakang tadbir. Mereka biasanya menulis autobiografi, novel, artikel, dan seumpama bukan untuk menerima sebarang kredit, tetapi hanya sekadar penulis dan tidak lebih dari itu. Adalah kebiasaan bagi mereka untuk diupah oleh selebriti dan Ahli Politik untuk "membantu" mereka dalam menyiapkan memoir.

Disini, seorang narrator yang tidak bernama, atau aku lebih gemar memanggilnya disini sebagai "Penulis Hantu" telah ditugaskan untuk menulis
Apr 19, 2010 Manny marked it as to-read
A taxi driver (ghost-)writes

Wotcher been to see then guv? The Ghost? Yeah, saw it yesterday with the missus. Makes yer think, dunnit? I mean, not saying I believe it, but then I don't not believe it neither if you catch my drift, yer know? Questions what oughter be addressed, right guv? Don't mind saying I laughed a few times, that bit with countries what don't recognise the International Court of Justice, yer know? America, Iraq, North Korea, right guv? You ask me, best way to deal with them wa
Grace Tjan

Decently written, if somewhat predictable in its conclusion. Adam Lang is an ex British PM whose policies were so pro-US that he must have been a CIA puppet --- and yes, it turns out to be literally true (DUH!). And the said handler is no other than the former first lady herself (GASP!), who was recruited before she even met him. Somehow, Lang has been married to her for more than a quarter of a century without ever finding out about it (HMM, REALLY!?). Apparently the CIA is so mu
Kathleen Dixon
A successful ghost-writer is suddenly asked to complete the ex-British Prime Minister's memoirs. Against his better judgement he says yes, and finds himself in Martha's Vineyard in the winter, among a group of highly stressed people (the ex-PM, his wife, a PA, some secretaries, the security team) who are having to deal with fall-out from the collusion with the US in the "War on Terror" and torture of prisoners.

Our ghost-writer notices a few strange things, but bumbles along notwithstanding, unti
Nick Marsh
First a confession – I love everything Robert Harris has written, although it has to be said that some of his novels are fantastic whilst others are merely ‘very good.’
His niche is to completely research a dramatic sequence from history, from the story of Cicero, in Imperium and Lustrum, through to Adam Lang, in The Ghost. Once research is done, he sews fact and fiction in such a close weave that in the end it almost doesn’t matter if we know what is fiction and what is not – everything seems to
Who says you have to be famous to write autobiographies? Not "the ghost", our narrator, a ghostwriter to the stars who tries to remain sane as his life spirals out of control and into the heady waters of political intrigue and conspiracy while "ghosting" the memoirs of the recently retired Labour prime minister. The similarities between Adam Lang (retired fictional prime minister) and Tony Blair (retired factual prime minister) are uncanny, despite the disclaimer at the front of the book. Althou ...more
Mike McAra, the ghost-writer of the British Prime Minister’s biography dies in America and the narrator, a successful ghost-writer himself, is assigned to finish the dead man’s task. He reveals – no surprise here – an international conspiracy and intrigue and in the end he has to run for his own life before he saves the world. A good plot, some surprises, some soft sex, some political background, in short: solid entertainment. If you like political thrillers you would give four stars, if you add ...more
Arun Divakar
My infatuation with political thrillers and the so-called conspiracies in high places began with Robert Ludlum's Bourne Trilogy which i read when i was practically jobless around 5 years ago. This was followed by a frenzy of such books from Ludlum to Forsyth to Brad Thor and one fine day as I was reading a Gerald Seymour book, I finally looked up and said "WTF".Just like a switch thrown off, i stopped reading the political thriller. Recently I found Robert Harris and his book "Fatherland" which ...more
Sue Uden
This was a Readers Group choice and not one I would ever have chosen personally. But, not for the first time, I am pleased to have been steered in a different direction. I loved the writing style and was pleased not to have to go back over old ground to work out who was who, as I have found with previously read political novels. I was sufficiently gripped to keep me reading for good long stretches, in other words long enough to neglect other chores. I did find that I was making comparisons betwe ...more
Sam Quixote
A ghost writer is hired to help a former Prime Minister with his memoirs while he is holed up in America. The ex-Prime Minister's administration brought the UK into an unpopular "war against terror" to support the US and the Minister now stands accused of war crimes against terror suspects. Sound familiar? Except as the ghost writer goes deeper into the Minister's path he finds out murkier secrets along with a decades old conspiracy and that his predecessor died in mysterious circumstances...

If I had realized this was by the author of that dreadful Enigma book I wouldn't have picked it up. Unfortunately, I didn't make the connection until I was a good 200 pages into The Ghost and I figured I might as well finish it. It explains a lot though. At least this plot was slightly more fast paced. However, its issues were numerous.
Let's start with the characters.
Namely, the main character.
The Ghostwriter.
He's exactly that. A ghost. An un-knowable character who 'tells' the story yet is no
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The Ghost is famous for being a roman à clef about the life of Tony Blair following his tenure as prime minister. It's told from the perspective of a nameless ghostwriter of celebrity autobiographies who is drafted in to edit the memoirs of the Blair figure, ex-PM Adam Lang, after the apparent suicide of Mike McAra, an aide who was assisting with the book. Lang is holed up in a mansion in Martha's Vineyard, surrounded by security and a host of associates, including his wife Ruth (a Cherie Blair ...more
Another hit, and a reason to get into more of Harris' modern work - although I am really looking forward to Conspiracy when it comes out later this year. Keeping up with his writerly inclusion of other people's books at the head of each chapter (in this case Andrew Crofts' handbook Ghostwriting), Harris proves himself as writer very much in love with and indebted to reading. The ghost in this story lives up to his eponymous calling, for lack of any name for the main character, and seems to be a ...more
Dick Reynolds
"All good books are different but all bad books are the same." So says The Ghost, a British writer selected to finish the memoirs of retired PM Adam Lang. His comment refers to a draft manuscript written by his predecessor who drowned under suspicious circumstances off the New England coast.
I consider this book, written by Robert Harris, a good one. Once I started it I ripped through it in two days. I've read several other books by Harris, notably the ones about Cicero and Pompeii being good in
Call me crazy, but I like my thrillers to be...thrilling?

This book started off interestingly enough, with a great first line and a premise with potential: ghost writer called in to finish writing an ex-Prime Minister's memoirs after the first writer dies suddenly.

That's where the "interesting" ends, unfortunately. Instead of a taut thriller, Harris gives us 400-odd pages of "Martha's Vineyard is cold and wet in February, and I'm gonna have all the characters call the narrator 'man' and 'you' bec
I've seen The Ghostwriter movie a couple of times and I know Robert Harris co-wrote the screenplay with Roman Polanski, so I was curious to read his original novel. Even though some of the events were changed for the movie (e.g. the very end), it is very close to the original story, including some of the dialog. This is a great mystery book, with many hints about the main character's end throughout the story. Reading about the responsibilities of a ghostwriter was quite interesting too.
Well made and good written thriller/crime novel! Just what i wanted to read.
One thing was weird, though: Harris is using both - cell phone and mobile phone. (The novel is set in the USA, and the main character, and most of the other characters, are British.) But i don't know why he, the story teller is using both, just makes no sense to me. It's not that the Amricans only use "cell phone" and the English ones "mobile phone", which actually would make sense...
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Robert Dennis Harris (born 7 March 1957 in Nottingham) is a best-selling English novelist. He is a former journalist and BBC TV reporter. He specialises in historical thrillers noted for their literary accomplishment. His books have been translated into some thirty languages
More about Robert Harris...
Pompeii Fatherland Imperium: A Novel of Ancient Rome (Cicero, #1) Enigma An Officer and a Spy

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“Of all human activities, writing is the one for which it is easiest to find excuses not to begin – the desk’s too big, the desk’s too small, there’s too much noise, there’s too much quiet, it’s too hot, too cold, too early, too late. I had learned over the years to ignore them all, and simply to start.” 35 likes
“A book unwritten is a delightful universe of infinite possibilities. Set down one word, however, and it immediately becomes earthbound. Set down one sentence and it’s halfway to being just like every other bloody book that’s ever been written.” 11 likes
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