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141 of 149 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A man without a past ...
I bought "The Bourne identity" mostly because I didn't want to lose the opportunity of reading Ludlum's book before the release of a film based on it. I really wasn't a fan of the author (and I am not one now), but I loved this book.

To start with, the plot is remarkably good. "The Bourne identity" is the story of a man without a past, rescued from the...
Published on June 1, 2004 by M. B. Alcat

versus
34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not quite my ideal novel
Like many people I came to this book through the movies based on Robert Ludlum's Bourne novels. I read THE JANSON DIRECTIVE several years ago (blew through it on a 30-hour train ride between Kolkata and Chennai), and though it was entertaining enough to pass the time with, I felt like it was essentially literary packing foam. I wasn't looking for Les Miserables, mind you,...
Published on September 11, 2007 by Amazon Customer


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141 of 149 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A man without a past ..., June 1, 2004
I bought "The Bourne identity" mostly because I didn't want to lose the opportunity of reading Ludlum's book before the release of a film based on it. I really wasn't a fan of the author (and I am not one now), but I loved this book.

To start with, the plot is remarkably good. "The Bourne identity" is the story of a man without a past, rescued from the Mediterranean Sea by some fishermen. He is very ill, and his body has suffered the impact of many bullets. The man is taken by the fishermen to a doctor in a nearby island, who helps him to recover physically and mentally. Our protagonist doesn't remember who he is, but with the help of the doctor he finds some clues he doesn't like too much. He only knows for certain some things, for instance that his face has been altered by plastic surgery, that he knows a lot about firearms and that he carried on him a microfilm that contains the code to an account of four million dollars.

In the Swiss bank where the account is he also finds a name: Jason Bourne. But... is he Jason Bourne?. He cannot remember, and if it were for quite a few people, he won't. From the moment he leaves the island onwards, our man without a past will be followed, and attacked. He doesn't understand why, but he reacts in order to stay alive. Add to this already interesting mixture a woman he takes as a hostage, Marie, a number of assasins (including the most famous assassin in the world, Carlos), and the possibility that he is, as a matter of fact, also an assassin, and you will understand why this book is so good. The main character will be hunted all throughout the book not only by the "bad guys", but also by the "good" ones (mainly agents from the USA Government). You won't be able to stop reading this book, and you will find yourself asking aloud to nobody in particular "who on earth is this man?" and "what started this whole mess"?.

All in all, I highly recommend this book to those who appreciate a good thriller, and to those who don't usually read this kind of book but are open to new experiences. I belong to the last category, as I only read "The Bourne identity" because I was interested in watching the movie of the same name.

By the way, I also recommend the movie (the 2002 version, with Matt Damon), that ended up bearing only a limited resemblance to the book. If I had to choose, I would choose the book without hesitation, but if you have the possibility not only of reading the book but also of watching the movie, do both things... You won't regret it, and you will probably have fun trying to compare the movie to the book !!

Belen Alcat
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ludlum's best - the genre's best., April 21, 1999
By A Customer
This is the book that proves that Robert Ludlum is the master of the spy genre. Always interested in plot lines that throw unsuspecting characters into the path of intrigue & danger, Ludlum takes the concept to new heights in this novel. Not only does the character not know what is going on, he doesn't even know who he is! What he does know is that he's a dead man if he doesn't figure it all out pretty soon. The first paragraph of this novel may be the most exciting opening lines of any story ever written, and Ludlum's pacing and style were never better. I often get bored with spy novels (LeCarre wears me out) because the characters are slow and stupid. Ludlum's protagonist (Jason Bourne) is tough, smart, and clever, but very realistic. He does not make stupid mistakes (as any believable spy would not), but when hit or shot, he suffers as much as any of us would. If you fancy yourself a lover of spy mysteries, you must read this book! It is the only such book I have ever truly found to be a "page-turner". (The first time I read it, I couldn't put it down until 4AM)
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars not quite my ideal novel, September 11, 2007
Like many people I came to this book through the movies based on Robert Ludlum's Bourne novels. I read THE JANSON DIRECTIVE several years ago (blew through it on a 30-hour train ride between Kolkata and Chennai), and though it was entertaining enough to pass the time with, I felt like it was essentially literary packing foam. I wasn't looking for Les Miserables, mind you, but Ludlum's characters are pretty mechanical, operating basically to show off a hidden world of espionage, conspiracy, and cool gadgets. There's nothing essentially wrong with this kind of novel, but I prefer character-driven fiction, where I can see personalities of some complexity and depth grapple with challenges and come out changed somehow. As far as I can tell, Ludlum didn't write this kind of novel often.

But THE BOURNE IDENTITY is an attempt at this kind of novel. The main character, so-called "Jason Bourne," is not struggling against assassins and CIA operatives for some political agenda or even merely to save his own life. He is trying to understand himself, to learn who he is. As one character states (as an almost shameless declaration of the "moral of the story"), "In a way, [Bourne is] a functioning microcosm of us all. I mean, we're all trying to find out who the hell we are, aren't we?" Such internal conflict, however, is handled quite clumsily in Ludlum's hands, which seem unaccustomed to dealing with emotional subtleties. Credit should go to the makers of the Bourne movies (Matt Damon and the rest of the cast prominent among them) for breathing life and depth into these characters.

I was a bit disappointed at how much of the mysteries surrounding Bourne's character are resolved for the reader not through Bourne himself learning the truth, but through a significant number of scenes where Bourne's adversaries discuss the details of his past life amongst themselves. For me this sucked the momentum out of the winding up scenes, and left me feeling like I'd missed the climax.

One last thing: those picking up THE BOURNE IDENTITY having seen the movies should be aware that the novel was published in 1980. While many of the basic premises remain the same, this is not exactly the same story you saw on screen. This is not at all a bad thing, but some people get really upset when they're expecting a perfect translation between literature and film or vice versa.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book -- Couldn't put it down..., February 2, 2002
By 
This was my first Ludlum book -- and I was very impressed. For this genre, it is rare that you find yourself thinking about the details of the plot between the times you are able to read.
I really enjoyed how the author slowly revealed the main character to the audience. My only complaint is that the other characters seemed to be a little shallow (minus a star for this...)
The story is that a man is brought to a doctor with horrible injuries and no memory of who he is or was. The doctor only shows him a piece of microfilm surgically implanted into his body with the name "Jason Bourne" and a number of a bank account. This man must figure out who he is while he is being chased by the police and other assassins (who know him, but he doesn't know them...)
Great story -- You will probably figure out the ending towards the end of the book, but you won't be able to put it down regardless.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless Thriller, November 15, 2010
This review is from: The Bourne Identity (Hardcover)
Like most of the people today, I have been introduced to Jason Bourne through the movie trilogy staring Matt Damon. In my opinion these were well executed spy/assassin thrillers and are among my favorite action thrillers of all time. I was aware that they were based on the eponymous novels by Robert Ludlum, but until recently did not consider reading it. I am really glad that I eventually got around and read the book, because it is every bit as exciting as the movie. Furthermore, although the main premise of both the book and the movie is the same - an American man who has lost all of his memory is trying to find his way in the world while battling various enemies - the nature of his background and the adversaries he faces are significantly different. This makes the book suspenseful and unpredictable even if you had seen the movie.

The world that Ludlum places Jason Bourn in is the world of high-level international ideological terrorism from the late seventies. The world has changed significantly since then, but it is still interesting to see the threats that were making international headlines back in those days. Ludlum exhibits a very high understanding of logistics and tactical maneuvering that anyone involved in covert operations would have required. All of the plot's twists and turns are extremely plausible yet entertaining. The action moves at a brisk pace, yet Ludlum pays a lot of attention to character development and the interpersonal relationships. One could even say that the book is almost philosophical in its dissection of personal identity. It makes you wonder how would you yourself go about rediscovering or even constructing your own sense of self if all the information you have is extremely fragmentary and unreliable.

This is a high-paced exciting thriller that is still very fresh three decades after it had originally been published.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good spy thriller, August 13, 2002
By 
Matthew D. Johnston (Burford, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
After finishing this novel, I promptly ran out and picked up The Hades Factor. This was surprising for me, considering I don't normally care for spy novels - I've tried to read LeCarre, and, to my knowledge, have never actually managed to finish one. I guess that's some sort of bar as to whether the novel's any good or not.
The plot is simple at first, but grows more complicated as the twists and turns continue. The main character, who we later learn is named Jason Bourne (I hope that's no spoiler), washes up in the Mediterranean Sea and has no memory. He's not without his gifts, though. He is fully trained with weapons of all sorts and has military-like reflexes. He acts without thinking. The novel follows him closely as he wanders instinctively into the world and tries to find out who he is. At every stop, somebody is hunting him. He needs to find out why. (I hope I'm not saying too much in disclosing that he will eventually tied in with a network of assassins, who compete for supremacy.)
I found the novel worked on several levels for me. I particularly liked the moral dilemmas Mr. Bourne had to go through early in the novel, when he's just finding out who he is (or was). He has people he doesn't know firing at him - does he fire back? how does he know they're bad? He has to take a hostage to stay alive, but how far should he go? He doesn't know what he's done, what he's wanted for - is it worth killing an innocent bystander for? And, of course, what if, in his past life he actually had deserved to be killed? Could he risk bringing somebody into his world knowing this?
There are also issues with loyalty and personal loss. Even in the extreme distress of their situations, the characters are able to dig for deeper meaning, in people's eyes, and in their hearts. It isn't all guns and politics. I found the loyalties between some of the characters very touching, as when Marie St. Jacques stands by Jason because he saves her - even thought he'd previously held a gun to her head.
Of course, there is the standard fair share of shooting and running and all-round suspense. At every turn, there's something forcing Jason to keep his wits about him and make impulse decisions. It all makes for a great read.
Matty J
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting story, April 6, 2000
By 
kireviewer (Sunnyvale, Ca United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Ludlum is one of the best at creating the super spy and writing action sequences. Sometimes he can create a spy story to back them up. This one is pretty good throughout. He isn't that good with the emotional development of his characters or writing love stories (but he isn't nearly as bad as Tom Clancey in these areas). The hero agonizing over what his identity might be gets to be tedious and the love story is awkward as in all of his books. But, mostly the book moved at a good enough pace to make me want to read more.
This is the first book in a three part series. I didn't know that when I read the book, and was frustrated and disappointed as I neared the end of the book and realized the story wouldn't be concluded. The second book in the series (Bourne Supremacy) is pretty bad and doesn't really build on the first book. It isn't necessary to read it before jumping on to the third book (Bourne Ultimatum) and the conclusion of the story. The third book isn't as good as the first, but is worth reading for the conclusion.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book, August 24, 2005
By 
I came to this book after having seen the film and I enjoyed both though I have to say I enjoyed the book slightly more than the film. In modernizing the time of the story for the film, new technologies come into play making Bourne's flight through Europe almost impossible because he can be tracked via cell phone signals, satelite imagry, email and the internet. In the book's diegesis, the year is 1980 (there abouts) and there are none of these modern devices, allowing Bourne and his female companion more time to plan and to act. I also prefer Maria in the book because she actually has useful skills. In the film she is just there as a convenient ride away from the initial confrontation and later hangs onto Bourne out of Stockholm syndrome. It was refreshing to see her have useful skills and a more robust personality than she does in the film.
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62 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting with lots of plot twists., December 16, 2001
By 
I promised I'd read The Bourne Identity after having seen the trailer starring Matt Damon in next year's movie by the same name. When I realized that Robert Ludlum had written the original book in 1980, I went to the library to pick up a copy. There's a similarity between the leading characters in Robert Ludlum's books. They're usually male, headstrong (and ultimately always the good guy), determined and they fall for a girl that complements the guy in some way.
A couple of persnickety points I have to mention in my reviews(as always): I found it irritating the way Marie St. Jacques (the leading lady) speaks to Jason Bourne. She uses "Darling" a lot and her speech seems somewhat formal and affected. The author also uses italics to indicate what's going on in a character's mind from time to time. The recurring themes in this book are: be a sponge (because you've got amnesia), move! (because you're being hunted), don't kill if you don't have to (because deep down you're actually a good guy - a govt. guy). But sometimes, it just feels redundant and tedious to read. The first Ludlum book I've read is the recent bestseller The Sigma Protocol. I rated and reviewed that book on Amazon as well. In my review I ended by saying the author got preachy towards the end to do some last minute plot explanation before ending the book. I see a slight hint of that in this book as well.
Some good points to consider are: It is my opinion that the author makes improvements to the style and tone of the sequel to this book called The Bourne Supremacy (which I liked better). I found it more action packed and rythmic. (The fact that I had spent most of my childhood summers in Hong Kong also helped.) I also enjoy his usage of local dialect interspersed in the characters' speech to give color and that authentic feel to the characters in his books. (Turns out he's been using this technique for the past 20+ years. You still see it in his latest novel The Sigma Protocol.)
If I had to give a more precise rating for this book, I'd rate it a 4.5. I'm saving the higher ration of 5.0 for The Bourne Supremacy, which I'll write a review for next. Stay tuned.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book! Highly recommended!!!, January 30, 2007
By 
NGUYEN NGOC Anh Vu (Leicester, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
A man is found on a small island called Ile de Port Noir in the Mediterranean, south of Marseilles. He is more corpse than man. A doctor, an Englishman named Washburn who came to Ile de Port Noir 8 years before because of his dismissal from Macleans Hospital in London, saves his life. But the man suffers a memory loss. He knows several languages. He is deadly in hand-to-hand combats. He can use several kinds of weapons. But he doesn't know who he is, where he comes from, whom he works for. He doesn't know his own identity. He is an amnesiac. Implanted beneath the skin on his hip is a frame of microfilm, which contains a bank account number. This account number leads to a bank in Zurich, the name Jason Bourne, supposed to be his, and four million dollars. Is Jason Bourne his real name? Or Cain? Or Delta? Or anything else? He becomes a wanted man of every side. The police want him. His description is on every immigration desk and border check in Europe. His old friends and colleagues want him dead. Carlos, who is the most dangerous assassin in the world, hunts him. He is struggling to kill his enemies, to protect the woman he loves, to find out his past and his identity, and to survive.

I watched the movie starring Matt Damon about a year ago. The movie is excellent. Matt Damon is also an excellent actor. But I am sorry to say that the book is much better. This is the first Robert Ludlum book I've read. And I am sure that this isn't the last one. Mr. Ludlum has done an excellent job in piling plot twist upon plot twist. The pace is fast. The book is full of actions and surprises. I would highly recommend this one to anyone who wants a 5-star action thriller book.
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The Bourne Identity: Jason Bourne Book #1
The Bourne Identity: Jason Bourne Book #1 by Robert Ludlum (Mass Market Paperback - January 5, 2010)
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