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The Bourne Identity

(Jason Bourne #1)

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  412,138 ratings  ·  4,831 reviews
Alternate cover for this ISBN can be found here

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
Paperback, 566 pages
Published March 24th 2005 by Orion (first published February 4th 1980)
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Bill Fairclough In some ways it reminded me of my life, not through the eyes of an amnesiac, but when I was used by intelligence agencies without knowing who I worked…moreIn some ways it reminded me of my life, not through the eyes of an amnesiac, but when I was used by intelligence agencies without knowing who I worked for as noted in Beyond Enkription which you should like if you are a Jason Bourne fan. For more about me please see and of course (less)
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Average rating 4.03  · 
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 ·  412,138 ratings  ·  4,831 reviews

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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
Seth T.
Oct 16, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Apr 13, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: daoban, biblio-bile
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
Mar 16, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
Aug 18, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Nov 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books, re-read
I saw the first movie and didn't understand anything. Too much action for me! But this retold version is quite different from the movies, because the story takes place after the Vietnam War. Then now I completely understood this abridged version from the original book (with MP3). I studied German at the university 30 years ago and I thought this language was very difficult, but learning English is also very difficult, but I'll succeed. ...more
Jan 05, 2021 rated it liked it
Jason Bourne’s amnesia is identical in so many ways to my own.

For one thing, I’ve forgotten the salient points of most of the Ludlum oeuvre, though I filled my idle commuting and travelling moments with most of them, between 1977 and 1984.

And why then can I nevertheless remember highlights of the Dickens, Shakespeare and Bronte works I read more than 10 years earlier?

Duh. Great writers don’t pull their punches!

You always remember a real Wallop.

Ludlum, on the other hand, thrives on shadow boxin
Aug 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 an authentic touch 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. ...more
David Putnam
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Read it a long time ago, but still rate this one as a five. Couldn't put this one down and for it's time it was a breakout concept the set the stage for many other great authors.

David Putnam author of the Bruno Johnson series.
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
Mar 30, 2019 rated it liked it
I FINALLY finished this! I just don't have time to read long books in print any more, but I've wanted to read this for a while & found it worthwhile. It's certainly not a perfect book. There's a lot of convenience, especially Marie's love & expertise. Several times there were silenced revolvers, too. I hate them, but the plot was twisty & the psychology was good - better done than the way amnesia & all is typically done. Well, for me, anyway. My knowledge of psychology & amnesia are practically ...more
Benjamin Stahl

The Bourne Identity? More like the Bored Identity. Am I right?



Oh, well that’s just fine then. Don’t all fucking laugh at once. But I’ll stand my ground. This shit was unbelievably boring.
Let’s go back to 2002. The cool kids in school dressed like Simple Plan – long shorts and high, black socks; a perpetual look of middleclass melancholy haunting their feminine faces. Who the hell ever heard of Facebook? You wanna chat, damn it, you call me mate. The going tre
Jonathan Terrington
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
***2018 Summer of Spies***

Perhaps I came into this novel expecting a bit too much—I’ve never seen the movies, only advertising for them, so I didn’t go in completely blind to the story, but about as close as you can get in our society. I can certainly see that this would make a great shoot-‘em-up, car-chase intense movie. I really can’t say that I cared whether Bourne got his memory back or who he actually was. I would have been much more interested in more exploration of nature of the memor
Warren Watts
Apr 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 23, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Nov 03, 2011 rated it did not like it
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
My Rating: 2.4/5

This could have been better. I am huge fan of the Bourne movies but this one is not what I expected!
There are chapters that are fantastic but overall the novel is dull. The author spends two much time in explaining Bourne's thought process that you just want to scream. The characters are also not that interesting. I expected more but....
I don't really recommend this one. Thank you for reading the review!

P.S: I couldn't even finish the whole book. I read like half of it.
Jan 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Terrific pulse-pounding thriller that has its fair share of twists and turns. Who is Jason Bourne? Who can you trust? Ludlum does a fabulous job of creating a mystery that weaves it's way through various points in time and in several locales. The characters are also top notch. This is action and intrigue at its finest ...more
Feb 12, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Pradnya K.
Oct 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone, especially who say reading is not my cup of tea.
Shelves: thriller
That was the winter of 2011. It had been harsh, cloudy and too foggy. I lived on the outskirts of my city then for few months and apart from the luxurious noon sunlight and biting cold, there wasn't much happening around. I ran to my sacred haven. There I met Robert Ludlum's Jason Bourne. The winter will be always remembered fondly!

I liked everything about this book. Since I opened it without much knowledge (yup, I was too ignorant then) so it turned out to be colorful firecrackers in the small
Jun 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Secret agent Jason Bourne has lost his memory while on a top secret mission. Now, he must rediscover his assignment, his contact, and himself! On the way, Bourne will battle a host of thugs, fall in love with a witty economist and track a legendary assassin.

But the big star is the method; Bourne may have lost his memories, but he can still rely on his advanced training. You'll follow his thought process as he evaluates dangerous situations on the fly, economizes his time and psychoanalyzes his
Exciting start but eventually became very detailed and I felt was a distraction to the main story. The book makes me want to watch the movie again since it's been a while that I saw the first Bourne. ...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’
Feb 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
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
May 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I loved the movie (Matt Damon one), I like the book, but I did not love the book. My biggest complaint is that in this espionage thriller there were a lot of political twists and turns that sometimes bored me or became too hard to fully understand. Another thing is the whole Stockholm syndrome thing that did not work too well for me. It left me asking way too many questions.

I love Ludlum's style of writing. He's the kind of writer that explains concepts and action well without being too wor
Jun 05, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of the movie, 16 and up
Shelves: adventure, mystery
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
Lance Charnes
Jul 28, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ludlum 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
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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

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