The Bourne Identity

by Robert Ludlum

Hardcover, 1980



Jason Bourne, having been rescued from the Mediterranean Sea after being shot, awakes with no memory of who he is, and as he races to learn about his past, he begins to uncover clues that lead him to believe he is an international assassin and his life is in danger.


(2081 ratings; 3.8)

Media reviews
Roman po kome je snimljen i cuveni istoimeni film sa Mat Dejmonom u glavnoj ulozi. Džejson Born je covek koji nema prošlost, a moguce je da nece imati ni buducnost. Jedino cega je svestan jeste da ga je Mediteransko more izbacilo na obalu i da mu je telo izrešetano. Polako ce shvatiti da se nalazi u zamršenoj slagalici iz koje nece moci da pobegne kao ni od svoje prošlosti. I niko ne može da mu pomogne, niko osim žene koja je nekada želela da pobegne od njega.

User reviews

LibraryThing member WilliamRaleighH
Raleigh Hazel
The Bourne Identity

This summer I was taken on a literary roller coaster while I was reading The Bourne Identity. I have had the pleasure of seeing the movies, but I must say that this is one of those cases where the book is infinitely times better. Robert Ludlum has a true mastery of how to create a novel with everything that your typical action craving guy needs. He has kung fu fighting, incredible car chases, and intense gun battles. After reading this novel I could only imagine what it would be like to actually be Jason Bourne.
The main character in the novel is a man, who actually to start off has no idea who he is. He suffers from amnesia due to a head trauma. He later decides that his true identity is Jason Bourne, an ex- United States military operative turned renegade assassin. Bourne’s character is goal driven; always moving to the next objective, always moving to the next clue to find his true identity. He suspects that there is much more to him than a renegade assassin. To help him along the way in his the search for his identity is the brilliant accountant Marie St. Jaques. Through their adventures, Jason and Marie begin to fall in love. Marie is a brilliant woman who works for the Canadian embassy. She is incredibly smart, and along with Jason’s mind, they are able to work together to piece together plans and further courses of action. The third most principal character is Carlos, widely known as the world’s deadliest assassin. He is almost more myth than real man, but he is also constantly hunting Bourne. We do not learn to many details of his character, but he is known to be very austere and suave, unlike Bourne who tends to be a little more rugged.
What I really love the most about these characters is how vividly I can imagine their actions. Ludlum uses such brilliant words and adjectives all the time to help the reader understand what these characters are going through. As I flip through the pages of the novel, the first words that leap out at me are statuesque, remarkable, and owl like. This is a mere sampling of the descriptive arsenal that Ludlum uses.
The various settings of this book include some of the world’s biggest cities. These include Zurich, Paris, and New York. However, the city with the most importance and the city that also holds most of the action is Paris. This summer I had the opportunity to go on a trip to Paris, and I must say that being in the city where Bourne was for almost he entire novel was incredible. It helped me get an even better picture in my head of what was going on.
The main theme of this book is the quest for identity and truth. Bourne is a amnesiac; he remembers the skills of his trade but has no idea who he is and if he ever led a relatively normal life. He, with the help of his lover, will do whatever it takes to find his true identity. Every action he makes is done to try and figure out who he is.
The Bourne Identity is one of those books that you really truly enjoy. It is written fantastically, and I have never read such a great action adventure book in my life. I look forward to reading the rest of the Bourne series, and I would also like to clarify that Jason Bourne is infinitely times better than James Bond. If you are looking for a thrilling read, than read The Bourne Identity.
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LibraryThing member pahoota
I never thought I'd say this about any book... the movie is better. I found the characters wooden and what motivations they did have seemed suspect. I do have to admit there are a few unexpected plot twists that I enjoyed, but getting to them was a slog.
LibraryThing member salem801
Read this a few years ago and after watching the film recently thought I'd read again. Big mistake. I don't know why but I could'nt get further than about 200 pages this time. Never really been a big fan of Robert Ludlum all the novels of his I've read seem to just be an endless chase from one location to the next. Obviously in the minority.… (more)
LibraryThing member wiremonkey
Although this is not really the genre of literature that I tend to read, it is the kind of movie I liked to see. And because the series of Bourne movies that have come out in the last few years have thrilled me to no end, I decided to just get off my literary high horse and read the suckers. To my unending surprise, the movies are only loosely based on the books. And when I say loosely, I mean they have retained the character and the amnesia and the CIA and that is about it. In a way, this worked in my favour as I had a whole new story to indulge in. However, I find the writing a little stilted and the dialogue embarrassing, especially between the two central characters. The one good thing about the movie was that they could convey their love through meaningful expressions and a bit of sex. They could avoid the talking part. Still, this hasn't stopped me from reading the other two...… (more)
LibraryThing member A.G.Claymore
I was surprised to learn that the Marie character in the book is actually one of my fellow citizens. The changes made for the movie are neccessary for a modern intelligence thriller (it's no great challenge for a SCIF team to ID a prominent delegation member) and once I came to grips with that, I found myself enjoying the story. Some of the prose would never have gotten past a commisioning editor's desk nowadays, but If it hadn't Matt Damon might still be doing 'Come Blow Your Yorn' at the Rockport Dinner Theater.
Say what you want about his prose, he knew how to spin a good yarn.
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LibraryThing member Clurb
Trust what you hear on this one; this book could not be further removed from the film if it was a different story. Full of fast-paced action and tense psychological anxiety with a layered and unfailingly intriguing plot.
LibraryThing member ctmsalpo
I'm not even sure what this book is completely about. I made it about 50 or so pages in, and put it down because I absolutely hated it. What I'd gotten from it so far was that a man, whom I am assuming is Jason Bourne, doesn't know who he is after washing up in the ocean for fishermen to find. From there he begins his healing process with an alcoholic doctor. Together, the two discover a few things: this unknown man looks as if he's changed his appearance several times and he has unbelievable fighting skills and a natural instinct for self defense. While the two were trying to piece together the mysterious case, I was nearly ripping my hair out, because it pained me to read on. The plot was confusing, and I couldn't understand anything that was happening. However, I can tell that Robert Ludlum is a fabulous writer as far as description and making a movie in your head with his detail. This just wasn't a very good start to the series. I've heard that the books get better and it's worth it, but frankly, I don't have the patience to wait for that to happen.… (more)
LibraryThing member dbhutch
Having NOT seen any of the Bourne movies at this point (yes I'm sheltered) i figure this may be a slightly different take on the book from some of the reviews I've read. I quite enjoyed this, Ludlum keeps the reader interested and wanting to learn more as Bourne, or Cain, learns about himself. I like how Ludlum gives you the insight into how panicked and frustrated this man is by not having his memory. My only complaint is that in situations where characters speak a foreign language, no translation, or hint at translation is offered, and if the reader does now know other languages, it makes the reader feel left out of what could be important dialogue. All in all - I'm lookign forward tot he next book… (more)
LibraryThing member ctmsalve
An amnesiac super-spy being hunted by a top assassin completely unknowingly may seem like an amazing read for most. However, Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Identity did not live up to it's expectations.

This book follows Jason Bourne, amnesiac from severe trauma, as he is chased across Europe and the Americas by assassin Carlos "the Jackal". This story is started with the shooting of Bourne in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, and his recovery in the small French town of Port Noir aided by the town's only doctor, an alcoholic surgeon named Geoffrey Washburn. From there heh heads to Zurich and Paris where he discovers a secret bank account worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and that one of his greatest allies is one of his greatest enemies.

The plot line of this book may seem like an amazing thriller when in fact Robert LUdlum does a terrible job of actually writing this story. First of all he includes way too much information in small periods of time, for example the first three pages of a chapter will be crammed with all the information while the rest will just be filled with gun fights and violence.

Ludlum, Being a retired Marine you would expect an amazing display of accuracy when describing weaponry and fighting, however this is perhaps where Ludlum Lacks most, in my opinion he inadequately describes and enriches most if not all of his writing or exaggerates to such an extent his writing, fiction though is, is non-believable and almost laughable.

RobertLudlum's Ideas for this book however are incredible and interesting, developing an amnesiac super spy to battle a world famous assassin, therefore I must rate this book a 2.5 out of 5.
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LibraryThing member joririchardson
I read this book because I loved the movie so much... but now I wish that I had read the book first. It is much better, but also entirely different from the film. The plot is different, new supporting characters, and Marie's character was changed in the movie.
This book is action packed and exciting from the very first page. I couldn't put it down. A dynamic read with amazing plot twists.
I loved this book and can't wait to read the next two books in the trilogy.
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LibraryThing member LisaMaria_C
Wow, by the end of chapter one I was already thinking this was one of the most ludicrous novels I've ever read. And given that I've been reading through a suspense novel recommendation list, with such doozies as Vince Flynn's Term Limits, Brad Thor's The Lions of Lucerne and Matthew Reilly's Ice Station that means Ludlum is setting a really low, low.

OK, there weren't any giant mutant seals at least, but right in the first pages our hero, later to be known as Jason Bourne, is shot multiple times. With one of those shots his "skull is ripped open." Not merely cracked, mind you, but ripped open. Bourne falls into the sea...and survives. But wait, it gets better! The fishermen who pick him up take him to this alcoholic doctor. Taking lots of liquids and starches to sober up, this doctor does brain surgery on Bourne! At his home! (Oh, and btw, if my use of italics and exclamation points irritate you--you're not going to last long with Ludlum--he uses them as if he's paid for each use.)

And then? Bourne wakes up with amnesia. But wait! Somehow in the midst of his solo brain surgery, the good doctor noticed the microchip in Bourne's hip with clues to his identity!

All I can say is, if after a first chapter like that one you continued reading, you got what you deserved. Several hours of your life you're going to wish you could get back.
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LibraryThing member cmbohn
I really tried to read this one as part of the 888 challenge, since I've had it on the shelf for way too long. But I only made it about 1/4 of the way through before deciding that it really wasn't for me. I just couldn't seem to give it the attention it needed to keep the story straight. I may look for this book in the future and give it another try, but for now, I'm going to plan on releasing this one.… (more)
LibraryThing member MrsLee
I picked this book up to read because I had enjoyed the movie. I thought it might be fun for my son to read. Well, I was engrossed. The story and plot far surpass the movie and I couldn't put it down. Unfortunately, I can't recommend it to my son because of one very graphic violent sexual episode. I thought the author handled it well and didn't exploit it, but I don't want those images in my teenager's head either.… (more)
LibraryThing member hawkeye3.keith
My fave spy novel. Ludlum delivers from start to finish. Completely different from the film.
LibraryThing member Wiszard
This is one book where I saw the movie first. I enjoyed the movie more. Ludlum's style is very detailed oriented and that makes this book drag on as opposed to the action on the big screen. I'm looking forward to reading the other books next as I've haven't seen the movies yet.
LibraryThing member laxhslr9599
One of those action packed thrillers that directly parallels the movie in a variety of ways. Jason Borne struggles to regain his memory and the truth about his past as he defeats all of his enemies with uncanny and instinctual capabilities that quite frankly, seem to scare him. Like all modern day movies, the girl is his anchor in all of the currupt and various underground dealings that occur, and Jason will have to defeat those who he used to work with, and use his full arsenal to uncover his past, and figure out what his identity really was and is.… (more)
LibraryThing member van_stef
I loved it. I'm not sure if I like the book or movie better, but they are definitly different. They start out the same, but the book gives a lot more background into the characters lives than the movie does.
LibraryThing member Bookalicious
This book is a fantastic read and should definitely be picked up by any espionage enthusiast out there. It is much better than the movie, and I thought the film was good.

Robert Ludlum is still one of the masters, despite his death. His books are still relevant even after all of this time, most of them at least.… (more)
LibraryThing member jmaloney17
I really enjoyed the series. They are very different than the movies, but the stories are equally engaging.
LibraryThing member evaberry
Definitely a good plot with some clever and intriguing bits, although Bourne's superhuman ability begins to grate after a while (he can get shot fifty-seven times and not die while he only needs to shoot the baddies once?). The style was really not for me, though. The first sentence is a perfect example: "The trawler plunged into the angry swells of the dark, furious sea like an awkward animal trying desperately to break out of an impenetrable swamp."

Some of the characters are pretty weak - especially with Marie, it's hard to understand how and why she makes the decisions and draws the conclusions she does. She's almost an afterthought. The dialogue is not very believable either, and I did wish he'd stop using italics for emphasis!
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LibraryThing member DavidBurrows
Very good read and good imaginative story. The main character has to rank as one of the top spies.
LibraryThing member AuntieClio
As trashy spy novels go, this one’s as good as any other, I suppose. It’s a good popcorn book but after 400 pages of repetitive phrases, two dimensional characters and a very convoluted and twisted plot, I lost interest and finished more out of a sense of duty and “let’s see how he writes himself out of this mess” than anything else. Of course, now I will be reading the others in this series because I’m mildly curious how Ludlum can string this plot across two more books, he could have just as easily wrapped it up in one with a lot of good editing. It would have been more interesting that way.… (more)
LibraryThing member WillyMammoth
If any reader expects "The Bourne Identity" to be just like the movie, he's in for a surprise. Up until the episode at the bank in Zurich, it's pretty much the same. But after that the book takes a wildly different path. Truth be told, the only things the book shares with the movie are the general concept (assassin with no memory struggles to find his identity) and a few character names. That's about it.

But that's not necessarily a bad thing. I felt Ludlum's plot iwas more interesting than that of the movie, and it certainly was much more intricate. Overall it was a good book; however, the man is terribly long-winded at times and the book went on for much longer than it really needed to. His characters were mostly of the stock variety, but it wasn't overly jarring.

What annoyed me the most, I'd say, is Ludlum's narrative style in general. His words were a sledge hammer repeatedly hitting me over the head, beating into my skull the fact that Bourne was conflicted and confused and was desperately struggling to figure out who he was and what happened to him. I got it after the first 100 pages, didn't need to have it repeated ad nauseum for the remaining 400.

All that being said, however, it was still an entertaining read. I didn't race through the book as is sometimes the case with a truly engaging read, however Ludlum still managed to keep me turning the pages.
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LibraryThing member ChromiumDomium
An excellent read, very different from the film, and surprisingly (I loved the films) much much better.
LibraryThing member devin3
In the novel, The Bourne Identity, encompasses the fact that people may be more than what they seem. In the beginning, a man was cast overboard a ship with bullet holes in his body and left to die, and the protagonist struggles with finding out his identity. In the middle, the protagonist discovers that his name is Jason Bourne and that he is a trained superhuman used to stop terrorist organizations.
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Richard Marek Publishers (1980)

Original publication date

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