John asked:

How did Mailer learn so much about CIA operations? I've just begun the book (after reading "the Brothers").

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Patrick King Keep reading. As is his wont, Mailer explains this in his afterwards. I can't think of any other major writer present or past who makes his process, inspirations, and techniques so available to the public. Between Advertisements For Myself, The Spooky Art and the forwards and afterwards to many of his books Mailer is very generous, explaining what he does to achieve his extremely life-like portrayals. He is also very candid about his over-reaching ambitions which more often than not were unachieved.

Mailer read voraciously a plethora of books that came out in the late 80s from former CIA agents. He then, as he always does, made everything up around characters and historical events. As he says, a novel is written day by day. Mailer claims that he found journalism much easier to write than fiction, so all of his fiction contains large elements of journalism. I have never read a better book on the day-to-day lives of spies than Harlot's Ghost. I'm only sorry he did not have the time to write Harlot's Grave as he intended.
John Turns out that Mailer includes a pretty good explanation in his author's notes at the end of the book. Go there first!
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