Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
Date: February 2014
Duration: 13 hours 34 minutes
Inspired by real CIA operations, this is the riveting novel of a fraying CIA analyst who conducts secret mind-control experiments and the young agent who, years later, uncovers the appalling legacy of the program and the people destroyed by it.
From its official sanction in 1953 to its shutdown in 1973, the CIA clandestinely conducted methods of mind control on unwitting American and Canadian citizens. This covert and illegal operation, Project MKULTRA, eventually made national headlines upon the declassification of thousands of documents in 2001.
Intrigued by the people empowered to enact such abuses and the legacy of such an operation, Scott O’Connor weaves the nuanced and compelling story of Henry March, a CIA agent forced to spearhead a series of insidious mind-control experiments in San Francisco. With each passing day, Henry’s existence becomes a nightmare, his identity withering as he works over the hapless men lured into his facility. Struggling between his duty to his country and his responsibility to his wife and children, Henry finally reaches a breaking point, leaving both his project and mind fractured. Amid the wreckage, he disappears, becoming the deepest Ultra mystery.
Two decades later, Dickie Ashby, a young CIA agent, is sent to Los Angeles to infiltrate a group of bank-robbing radicals who claim to have been abused in a government brainwashing operation years earlier. The members of the group know they need to find Henry March and that the only bridge to Henry is his daughter, Hannah, who lives in the city. Dickie suddenly finds himself dragged into the stunning legacy of the experiments, torn between doing his job, helping the victims of Henry’s program, and protecting Hannah.
Called “one to watch” (Los Angeles Times) and hailed for his ability “to make something beautiful of unspeakable matters” (New York Times), O’Connor will stir your emotions with Half World, a mesmerizing novel about reality and the basic incorruptible value of human relationships.
“O’Connor’s spare prose amplifies the horror of his story. It also compels the reader to inhabit his characters’ lives. Half World is a stunningly grim and emotionally harrowing read and an astute and evocative portrayal of government paranoia during the Cold War and Vietnam War eras.”—Booklist (starred review)