Inspired by the shocking history of MKULTRA, the secret CIA mind-control program
In the 1950s, the CIA began a clandestine operation known as Project MKULTRA, in which unwitting American and Canadian citizens were subjected to insidious drug and mind-control experiments. In the two decades of the program, countless lives — and families — were destroyed.
Haunted by these events, acclaimed novelist Scott O’Connor has crafted a literary thriller that vividly imagines the devastating emotional legacy of such a program. Henry March, an unassuming CIA analyst forced to spearhead MKULTRA’s San Francisco branch, finds himself bridging an untenable divide between his devotion to his family and the brutality of his daily task. Torn between duty and conscience, Henry’s own identity begins to fray, until he reaches the ultimate breaking point. Amid the wreckage, he disappears without a trace.
Twenty years later, as the country struggles under the weight of the Vietnam War, another troubled young agent, Dickie Ashby, will risk everything to find Henry. Dickie must piece together the staggering aftermath of the crimes before it’s too late.
From a writer hailed for his ability ‘to make something beautiful of unspeakable matters’ (The New York Times), Half World is both a page-turning drama and a transcendent celebration of our enduring capacity for hope.