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The Bourne Identity (Jason Bourne, #1)
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The Bourne Identity (Jason Bourne #1)

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  260,160 ratings  ·  2,935 reviews
Who is Jason Bourne? Is he an assassin, a terrorist, a thief? Why has he got four million dollars in a Swiss bank account? Why has someone tried to murder him?...

Jason Bourne does not know the answer to any of these questions. Suffering from amnesia, he does not even know that he is Jason Bourne. What manner of man is he? What are his secrets? Who has he killed?
Paperback, 566 pages
Published March 24th 2005 by Orion (first published January 1st 1980)
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I Only Watched the Movie!
26th out of 822 books — 4,638 voters
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The BOOK was BETTER than the MOVIE
88th out of 1,288 books — 16,778 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mike (the Paladin)
First of all let me say...the recent movie with Matt Damon, I hated it. They butchered the story. I understand shortening for time (as in The Lord of the Rings) I understand combining characters...but why take a book's title then completely rewrite the story?

I like this book and its sequels. I hate the movie and its sequels.

Please try reading the books and finding out what the plot actually is. The book is well plotted, thought out, with complex characters. I believe you'll like it.

A man wakes...more
Seth Hahne
Sep 17, 2009 Seth Hahne rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: someone who likes thriller-y stuff
I loved the movie and heard that I the book was comparatively awesome. And it was.

The thing is: I haven't the faintest idea how the movie came out of the book. Beyond the premise of a man fished from the sea with no memory but incredible ingrained abilities and talents that make it look like he's really probably and assassin with no amnesia, and the fact that the first act after the prologue occurs in Zürich and deals with a Swiss bank, nothing is the same.

Sure, there's a girl named Marie, but s...more
Duckie
I don't remember how this ended because I had to buy myself a Jack-and-Coke to get through the last chapter. Ludlum belongs in a very small, elite group of authors who don't know what words mean. To illustrate this, here are some passages from the book followed by the first image that came to mind when I read them:


"'If I scream, Monsieur?' The powdered mask was cracked with lines of venom now, the bright red lipstick defining the snarl of an aging, cornered rodent."






"Himself. The chameleon. The c...more
woody
Sorry if you loved this book, I HATED it. Maybe it was above my reading level. There were just too many "alpha, bravo,cain, delta...Cain is for Charlie, Delta is for Cain!" This book put me to sleep so many nights it is surprising that I finished it. I just kept hoping that jason bourne would die...Good thing I shop at Goodwill and it only cost me 50 cents! Everyone tells me that I should give the movie a chance and that it is better than the book, but I ask, won't it remind me of the book and b...more
Bagtree
This book caused me pain. Intense boredom, odd moments of indignation, and pain. It's poorly-paced. The prose is a clunky, redundant, pointlessly vague affront to all that is good in the English language. The dialogue is stilted and horrid. The characters are so robotic I begin to question whether Ludlum ever met a human being, and the "romance" is not only horribly oversold BUT PREDICATED ON BOURNE USING HIS LOVE INTEREST AS A HUMAN SHIELD. I don't care how many rapists a man rescues you from;...more
Danaja
This book was my introduction to spy novels and its still the best I've read in that area. Incredibly detailed and full of suspense. My favorite spy and one of my favorite villains rolled in to one in to exhilarating package with fast pace action.If you like authentic tooch in what you read you'll love this! Must note that the movie is completely different from the book. In my opinion the book is a much better experience.
Jonathan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Victoria
Jun 09, 2008 Victoria rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of the movie, 16 and up
Shelves: mystery, adventure
This book was so different from the movie ! ( But then again when are they ever the same ? ) I really enjoyed the story , I now wish the movie had kept a few more things in it. I thought marie was a much better character. I love the way it ended.
HOWEVER : There is a TON of swearing ! And I do mean a TON !
That was very disapointing . :( but, I now have a fully edited book if someone wants to swap/sell with me. :)
I just got a black pin coverd the words. I would have given this story a 5 if it wer...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Nov 03, 2011 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Someone Braindead
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Ultimate Reading List
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...more
Stephen
I saw and enjoyed the movie years ago but the story never gripped me enough to make me hurry to read the book. Now that I have, I'm glad that I did.

First, its a great story. It's fast paced and has that energy common to techno-thrillers. Ludlam can certainly hold his own in an arena I'd previously thought of as populated by Tom Clancy alone. The locales and the situations are captivating and the action and tension are riveting.

This book's strength (and perhaps its weakness) is the amnesia/myste...more
LaFleurBleue
The scenario is absolutely excellent and probably one of the best I ever read in terms of complexity and continuous action and/or new discoveries. What an imagination ! The story and the characters are slightly different from the movie; I should say the storyline is way much more complex in the book; the characters could do with a bit more substance.
The major drawback which explains my rather poor quotation of this book is indeed the writing quality, or lack thereof. Some sentences simply do no...more
Matt
The first book of the Bourne trilogy series, The Bourne Identity begins the tale of Jason Bourne, one of the US government's greatest assassin creations, rescued by fishermen off the French coast. The only problem is that the incident that put him adrift in the water, bullet-ridden and unconscious, had resulted in amnesia. He does not know his name nor his profession. He only knows what his body has been trained to do. The adventure starts, and can only start, with the only piece of information...more
Dyuti
After finishing the book, I can totally understand why The Bourne Identity has attained such a cult-status among it's readers. In fact out of my 32 friends who have the book in their shelves in GR, 18 have given it a 4/5 star rating. To begin with, it is a pretty decent thriller. It has an amazing start, a couple of interesting characters, a protagonist you can root for, fast twists and turns and some powerful action sequences.

The premise really impressed me. A nameless man with highly unusual s...more
Warren Watts
While perusing the library shelves for something new to read, I came across The Bourne Identity, a 1980’s era Cold War espionage novel by Robert Ludlum. I'm not usually a reader of this genre of fiction, but based on what I felt had been an excellent film, I borrowed the book.

The 1980 novel (which spawned the 2002 film) opens with a man barely clinging to life being discovered by fishermen, nearly frozen to death in the cold French Mediterranean sea. He has sustained several gunshot wounds inc...more
Lance Charnes
Aug 11, 2012 Lance Charnes rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lulum fans; fans of 1970s spy thrillers
I had reason to read this again after a loooong time, not really remembering much about it.

First, forget the movie. The only things the book and movie have in common are the title and the names of the main characters. This can be both good and bad. The good part is that you don’t know what’s going to happen based on Matt Damon’s adventures; the bad part is that it’s not nearly as much fun.

This is about as close as Ludlum gets to a semi-realistic espionage thriller. He’ll never be mentioned in th...more
Dirk Grobbelaar
This novel was published in 1980, and the primary antagonist (who just happens to be a real life person) was left out of the 2002 film, no doubt because he was apprehended and, to some extent, demystified, in the 1990s. The fact that this person is central to the plot of the novel, but does not appear in the film, inevitably drives a contextual wedge between the two mediums, even though the central amnesia theme remains the same. There is also a 1988 TV-film, which I haven’t seen.

All in all, it’...more
Phoenix
Robert Ludlum is a terrible terrible writer of dialogue and had a terrible style.

The man can, however, tell a story. That is why his books are translated very well into great action movies.

but if i have to read one more line of the "oh john! oh marsha' bullcrap in his novels, i swear i will stab my eyes out with a fork. man on man, if that woman goes on anymore in her inner monologue about "that poor man! he couldn't stand it! not knowing who he was! and now he was . . . . blah blah bippity bla...more
Julie Balazs
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
C. Lorion
If you've seen The Bourne Identiy movies starring Matt Damon, but you've not read the book by Robert Ludlum upon which the movies are loosely based, you owe it to yourself to read this early 80s spy-thriller.

The original premise: a man wakes up in the Mediterranean with amnesia. He's an undercover US operative with the name Jason Bourne, yet he doesn't remember that his mission was to expose and kill the world's deadliest assassin, Carlos the Jackal (a historical figure from the 70s). Because h...more
Matt
Admittedly, it has been a while since I have seen the first Bourne movie. With that in mind, my memory is strong enough to remember that the movie is nothing like the book, both in character development and storyline. If I had to judge, I would lean towards the book (name me a movie that outdid a book, eh?), with its detail and its thoroughness, as well as its character presentation. The plot, though not as overarching in Ludlum’s first Bourne creation as Hollywood presented, is much more ‘spy w...more
Carol
Cain is for Charlie and Delta is for Cain



Classic old school 80’s spy novel packed with action, drama and suspense. Written by Ludlum and not the grave digging wannabes.

Fishermen in the Mediterranean Sea rescue a man floating in the water. The man is an amnesiac. He is taken to a doctor who finds information of a Zurich bank account surgically implanted in his hip. The man travels to the Zurich bank to find clues to his identity. He finds he has an account of 5 million dollars and a name Jason B...more
Brian
Usually it makes sense to compare books to other books, and even then it can be a case of comparing apples to oranges. But given the popularity of the movie trilogy, it makes better sense to compare this novel with the films that likely introduced Jason Bourne to readers well before they get to the book's opening sentence. Apples to pomegranates? Maybe.

Anyway, on to the source material.

The book isn't nearly as fast-paced as the movie, and that's a bad thing. Though Ludlom perfected the process t...more
Thomas Waite
"The Bourne Identity" is the first book by Robert Ludlum that spawned the very successful Jason Bourne series, and in my mind it is his best. The novel begins as a half-dead man with his body bloodied and riddled with bullets is dragged from the sea onto trawler in the middle of a storm. Less than three hours earlier he was shot and thrown into the sea by people intent on killing him for reasons he does not know or remember. Their mistake is in believing him to be dead. The man eventually finds...more
Noor Jahangir
Whilst Robert Ludlum isn't on my reading list, I managed to download this book for free on the Android version of the Laputa Book Reader. Obviously, I was interested in the book because of the fantastic Bourne films. I've read quite a number of books that have been made into films, but for some reason I was surprised at how different this book is from the film adaptation. Surprised in a good way. It is much more substantial in plot.

The Jason Bourne of the books is a much more sympathetic charact...more
James
I'd kinda ignored the original three Bourne novels as I'd already seen and enjoyed the movies, but it had always nagged at me that the later Lustbader novels sat at odds with the story I new from the films. Having finally gone back to read the originals I understand why - the movies and the novels are not the same, not even close. It's the same characters and the same premise of amnesia, but pretty much everything else is different - especially the plot. Suddenly, some of the things in the later...more
Steven
So, the book was going smoothly, I was enjoying the ride...

Then there's a rape scene.

Why was there a rape scene? Timing.

How is the rape scene resolved? A brief paragraph about the truth of the horror of rape.

What happens next? Now the sex starts.

Needless to say, (1) I thought the rape was unneeded -- particularly being that it has zero long-term impact on the characters involved, and (2) the way the rape was delivered, cleaned up, and swept away felt grossly unrealistic.

I finished the book, but...more
Martine
As spy novels come, this one is pretty good. It has an intriguing premise, interesting characters and enough creepy details, action and plot twists to make you want to find out what happens next. In short, it's a definite page turner, and that, I believe, is the main prerequisite in this genre, with which I'm not terribly familiar.

The story, for those of you who haven't seen the rather loose film adaptation, is as follows. A youngish, bullet-riddled man is found more dead than alive on a beach i...more
sage
Gah. So many mixed feelings. Basically, if I'd hit CTRL-H and inserted Natasha Romanov/Natalia Romanova for every mention of Jason Bourne (and various epithets), I might have loved this. It would have changed all the horrible gender dynamics and created a fabulous statement about men in power hanging women out to dry.

Marie's Stockholm Syndrome is so distasteful. As are every one of the many instances where crimes against women are dismissed, tolerated, or gotten away with (either by word or acti...more
Victor Lam
Review

"Mr. Ludlum stuffs more surprises into his novels than any other six-pack of thriller writers combines."—_The New York Times_

Product Description

Jason Bourne.

He has no past. And he may have no future. His memory is blank. He only knows that he was flushed out of the Mediterranean Sea, his body riddled with bullets.

There are a few clues. A frame of microfilm surgically implanted beneath the flesh of his hip. Evidence that plastic surgery has altered his face. Strange things that he say

...more
Heather Boustead
The Bourne Identity
By Robert Ludlum

Off a small island in the Mediterranean a man is found floating in the ocean. The man has no memory of who he is and how he came to be floating in the ocean clinging to a plank. He is taken to a doctor who has been tending to him upon his awakening the doctor tries to help him remember the man has had extensive facial reconstruction and something implanted in his hip that has a bank account number on it. The man follows the bank account lead and begins to disco...more
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Robert Ludlum was the author of twenty-seven novels, each one a New York Times bestseller. There are more than 210 million of his books in print, and they have been translated into thirty-two languages. He is the author of The Scarlatti Inheritance, The Chancellor Manuscript, and the Jason Bourne series--The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, and The Bourne Ultimatum--among others. Mr. Ludlum...more
More about Robert Ludlum...
The Bourne Supremacy (Jason Bourne, #2) The Bourne Ultimatum (Jason Bourne, #3) The Matarese Circle (Matarese #1) The Icarus Agenda The Aquitaine Progression

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“I mean, we're all trying to find out who the hell we are, aren't we?” 135 likes
“The success of any trap lies in its fundamental simplicity. The reverse trap by the nature of its single complication must be swift and simpler still.” 76 likes
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