The Bourne Identity (novel)

The Bourne Identity (novel)

Infobox Book |
name = The Bourne Identity
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption = "The Bourne Identity" first edition cover.
author = Robert Ludlum
illustrator =
cover_artist =
country = United States
language = English
series = "Jason Bourne"
"Bourne Trilogy"
subject =
genre = Thriller, Spy novel
publisher = Richard Marek
pub_date = February 1980
english_pub_date =
media_type = Print (Hardback & Paperback)
pages = 523 pp "(first edition)"
isbn = ISBN 0399900705
oclc =
preceded_by =
followed_by = The Bourne Supremacy

"The Bourne Identity" is a 1980 spy fiction thriller novel by Robert Ludlum about a retrograde amnesiac who must discover who he is and why several groups, including an assassin and the CIA, are trying to kill him. It is the first in a series of novels written by Ludlum, and later Eric Van Lustbader, featuring Jason Bourne.

"The Bourne Identity" was voted the second best spy novel of all-time, behind John le Carré's "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold", by "Publishers Weekly". [ Crime Fiction Dossier: Top 15 Spy Novels ] ] [ The Rap Sheet: Spy vs. Spy vs. Spy ] ]

It was adapted into a 1988 television mini-series starring Richard Chamberlain and Jaclyn Smith, and a 2002 movie starring Matt Damon, Franka Potente and Chris Cooper.

Plot summary

:"For a more in-depth background of the character Bourne, see Jason Bourne (character)."

The protagonist is found floating in the Mediterranean Sea with several bullet wounds, including a head wound which has given him amnesia. The doctor treating him finds a message surgically embedded in his hip that contains details of a Swiss bank account, presumably anonymous.

In Zürich, Switzerland, the protagonist learns that his name is Jason Bourne. While attempting to retrace his steps on his previous visit to the city he attracts the attention of several people who either fear him, warn him of danger, or try to kill him—but they all unhelpfully assume that he already knows why. He begins to suspect, on the basis of circumstantial evidence, that he may have been a professional assassin prior to losing his memory. He also meets a woman named Marie St Jacques in Zürich and on the spur of the moment, uses her as a sort of hostage to escape an attempt on his life in a crowded convention hotel. Realizing that he has put her life in danger as well, he risks his own life to prevent her from being executed. This is the first clue that there may be more to the protagonist than a cold-blooded killer.

The 1988 miniseries is reasonably true to the plot of the novel, but the story of the film (2002) was changed to exclude the subplot about the terrorist Carlos the Jackal and, equally or more significantly, the fact of Bourne's innocence—it is maintained that he actually was an assassin, though of CIA employ.


Ludlum wrote two sequel novels to "The Bourne Identity," "The Bourne Supremacy" and "The Bourne Ultimatum". In addition, after Ludlum's death, Eric Van Lustbader continued the story of Jason Bourne in "The Bourne Legacy", "The Bourne Betrayal" and "The Bourne Sanction".

Publication history

*1980, US, Richard Marek ISBN 0399900705, Pub date February 1980, Hardback
*1982, US, Bantam Books ISBN 0553242962, Pub date April 1982, Paperback
*1986, UK, Grafton ISBN 0246111216 Pub date June 19, 1986, Hardback
*1997, UK, HarperCollins ISBN 0586049347, Pub date December 1, 1997, Paperback


ee also

* The 1987 Tamil movie [ Vetri Vizha] starring Kamal Haasan is a loose adaptation of this novel.
* The teen novel series "The Sleeper Conspiracy" by Tom Sniegoski is similar to the Bourne series.
* The underlying storyline of the Belgian comic series XIII is similar to The Bourne Identity.

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