The Bourne Identity (Bourne Series #1)

The Bourne Identity (Bourne Series #1)

4.3 226
by Robert Ludlum

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Robert Ludlum's most famous character comes to life in this exciting program performed by Darren McGavin.

He is a man with an unknown past and an uncertain future. A man dragged from the sea riddled with bullets, his face altered by plastic surgery--a man bearing the dubious identity of Jason Bourne.

Now he is running for his life, the target of…  See more details below


Robert Ludlum's most famous character comes to life in this exciting program performed by Darren McGavin.

He is a man with an unknown past and an uncertain future. A man dragged from the sea riddled with bullets, his face altered by plastic surgery--a man bearing the dubious identity of Jason Bourne.

Now he is running for his life, the target of professional assassins, at the center of a maddeneing, deadly puzzle. Who is Jason Bourne? To answer that question, he must find the secret buried deep in his own past. And the only one who can help him is a beautiful woman who once would do anything to escape him.

Editorial Reviews

Gale Research
The Bourne Identity, which introduced a trilogy of books, follows Bourne, a spy who awakens in a doctor's office with amnesia; the story is played out as a remarkable number of killers and organizations attempt to finish Bourne off before he realizes his true identity. "Some of Mr. Ludlum's previous novels were so convoluted they should have been packaged with bags of bread crumbs to help readers keep track of the plot lines," Peter Andrews mused in the New York Times Book Review. "But The Bourne Identity is a Ludlum story at its most severely plotted, and for me its most effective."
From the Publisher
“Ludlum stuffs more surprises into his novels than any other six-pack of thriller writers combined.”—The New York Times

Product Details

Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group
Publication date:
Bourne Series, #1

Read an Excerpt

The New York Times
Friday, July 11, 1975


PARIS, July 10-France expelled three high-ranking Cuban diplomats today in connection with the worldwide search for a man called Carlos, who is believed to be an important link in an international terrorist network.

The suspect, whose real name is thought to be Ilich Ramirez Sanchez is being sought in the killing of two French counterintelligence agents and a Lebanese informer at a Latin Quarter apartment on June 27.

The three killings have led the police here and in Britain to what they feel is the trail of a major network of international terrorist agents. In the search for Carlos after the killings, French and British policemen discovered large arms caches that linked Carlos to major terrorism in West Germany and led them to suspect a connection between many terrorist acts throughout Europe.

Reported Seen in London

Since then Carlos has been reported seen in London and in Beirut. Lebanon.

Associated Press Monday, July 7, 1975 syndicated dispatch


LONDON (AP)-Guns and girls, grenades and good suits, a fat billfold, airline tickets to romantic places and nice apartments in a half dozen world capitals. This is the portrait emerging of a jet age assassin being sought in an international manhunt.

The hunt began when the man answered his doorbell in Paris and shot dead two French intelligence agents and a Lebanese informer. It has put four women into custody in two capitals, accused of offenses in his wake. The assassin himself hasvanished—perhaps in Lebanon, the French police believe.

In the past few days in London, those acquainted with him have described him to reporters as good looking, courteous, well educated, wealthy and fashionably dressed.

But his associates are men and women who have been called the most dangerous in the world. He is said to be linked with the Japanese Red Army, the Organization for the Armed Arab Struggle, the West German Baader-Meinhof gang, the Quebec Liberation Front, the Turkish Popular Liberation Front, separatists in France and Spain, and the Provisional wing of the Irish Republican Army.

When the assassin traveled—to Paris, to the Hague, to West Berlin-bombs went off, guns cracked and there were kidnappings.

A breakthrough occurred in Paris when a Lebanese terrorist broke under questioning and led two intelligence men to the assassin's door in Paris on June 27. He shot all three to death and escaped. Police found his guns and notebooks containing “death lists” of prominent people.

Yesterday the London observer said police were hunting for the son of a Venezuelan Communist lawyer for questioning in the triple slaying. Scotland Yard said, “We are not denying the report,” but added there was no charge against him and he was wanted only for questioning.

The Observer identified the hunted man as Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, of Caracas. It said his name was on one of the four passports found by French police when they raided the Paris apartment where the slayings took place.

The newspaper said Ilich was named after Vladimir Ilych Lenin, founder of the Soviet state, and was educated in Moscow and speaks fluent Russian.

In Caracas, a spokesman for the Venezuelan Communist Party said filch is the son of a 70-year-old Marxist lawyer living 450 miles west of Caracas, but “neither father nor son belong to our party.”

He told reporters he did not know where Ilich was now.

Chapter 1

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. The waves rose to goliathan heights, crashing into the hull with the power of raw tonnage; the white sprays caught in the night sky cascaded downward over the deck under the force of the night wind. Everywhere there were the sounds of inanimate pain, wood straining against wood, ropes twisting, stretched to the breaking point The animal was dying.

Two abrupt explosions pierced the sounds of the sea and the wind and the vessel's pain. They came from the dimly lit cabin that rose and fell with its host body. A man lunged out of the door grasping the railing with one band, holding his stomach with the other.

A second man followed, the pursuit cautious, his intent violent. He stood bracing himself in the cabin door; he raised a gun and fired again. And again.

The man at the railing whipped both his hands up to his head, arching backward under the impact of the fourth bullet. The trawler's bow dipped suddenly into the valley of two giant waves, lifting the wounded man off his feet; he twisted to his left unable to take his hands away from his head. The boat surged upward, bow and midships more out of the water than in it, sweeping the figure in the doorway back into the cabin, a fifth gunshot fired wildly. The wounded man screamed, his hands now lashing out at anything he could grasp, his eyes blinded by blood and the unceasing spray of the sea. There was nothing he could grab, so he grabbed at nothing; his legs buckled as his body lurched forward. The boat rolled violently leeward and the man whose skull was ripped open plunged over the side into the madness of the darkness below.

He felt rushing cold water envelop him, swallowing him, sucking him under, and twisting him in circles, then propelling him up to the surface—only to gasp a single breath of air. A gasp and he was under again.

And there was heat, a strange moist heat at his temple that seared through the freezing water that kept swallowing him, a fire where no fire should burn. There was ice, too; an icelike throbbing in his stomach and his legs and his chest, oddly warmed by the cold sea around him. He felt these things, acknowledging his own panic as he felt them. He could see his own body turning and twisting, arms and feet working frantically against the pressures of the whirlpool. He could feel, think, see, perceive panic and struggle—yet strangely there was peace. It was the calm of the observer, the uninvolved observer, separated from the events, knowing of them but not essentially involved.

Then another form of panic spread through him, surging through the heat and the ice and the uninvolved recognition. He could not submit to peace! Not yet! It would happen any second now; he was not sure what it was, but it would happen. He had to be there!

He kicked furiously, clawing at the heavy walls of water above, his chest burning. He broke surface, thrashing to stay on top of the black swells. Climb up! Climb up!

A monstrous rolling wave accommodated; he was on the crest, surrounded by pockets of foam and darkness. Nothing. Turn! Turn!

It happened. The explosion was massive; he could hear it through the clashing waters and the wind, the sight and the sound somehow his doorway to peace. The sky lit up like a fiery diadem and within that crown of fire, objects of all shapes and sizes were blown through the light into the outer shadows.

He had won. Whatever it was, he had won.

Suddenly he was plummeting downward again, into an abyss again. He could feel the rushing waters crash over his shoulders, cooling the white-hot heat at his temple, warming the ice-cold incisions in his stomach and his legs and . . .

His chest His chest was in agony! He had been struck—the blow crushing, the impact sudden and intolerable It happened again! Let me alone. Give me peace.

And again!

And he clawed again, and kicked again . . . until he felt it. A thick, oily object that moved only with the movements of the sea. He could not tell what it was, but it was there and he could feel it, hold it.

Hold it! It will ride you to peace. To the silence of darkness . . . and peace.

The rays of the early sun broke through the mists of the eastern sky, lending glitter to the calm waters of the Mediterranean. The skipper of the small fishing boat, his eyes bloodshot, his hands marked with rope burns, sat on the stern gunnel smoking a Gauloise, grateful for the sight of the smooth sea. He glanced over at the open wheelhouse; his younger brother was easing the throttle forward to make better time, the single other crewman checking a net several feet away. They were laughing at something and that was good; there had been nothing to laugh about last night. Where had the storm come from? The weather reports from Marseilles had indicated nothing; if they had he would have stayed in the shelter of the coastline. He wanted to reach the fishing grounds eighty kilometers south of La Seyne-sur-Mer by daybreak, but not at the expense of costly repairs, and what repairs were not costly these days?

Or at the expense of his life, and there were moments last night when that was a distinct consideration.

'Tu es fatigue, hein, mon frere?” his brother shouted, grinning at him. “Va te coucher mainaintenant. Laisse-moi faire.”

“D'accord,” the brother answered, throwing his cigarette over the side and sliding down to the deck on top of a net. “A little sleep won't hurt.”

It was good to have a brother at the wheel. A member of the family should always be the pilot on a family boat; the eyes were sharper. Even a brother who spoke with the smooth tongue of a literate man as opposed to his own coarse words. Crazy! One year at the university and his brother wished to start a compagnie. With a single boat that had seen better days many years ago. Crazy. What good did his books do last night? When his compagnie was about to capsize.

He closed his eyes, letting his hands sonic in the rolling water on the deck. The salt of the sea would be good for the rope burns. Burns received while lashing equipment that did not care to stay put in the storm.

“Look! Over there!”

It was his brother; apparently sleep was to be denied by sharp family eyes.

“What is it?' he yelled.

“Port bow! There's a man in the water! He's holding on to something! A piece of debris, a plank of some sort.”

The skipper took the wheel, angling the boat to the right of the figure in the water, cutting the engines to reduce the wake. The man looked as though the slightest motion would send him sliding off the fragment of wood he clung to; his hands were white, gripped around the edge like claws, but the rest of his body was limp-as limp as a man fully drowned, passed from this world.

“Loop the ropes!” yelled the skipper to his brother and the crewman. “Submerge them around his legs. Easy now! Move them up to his waist. Pull gently.”

“His hands won't let go of the plank!”

“Reach down! Pry them up! It may be the death lock.”

“No. He's alive . . . but barely, I think. His lips move, but there's no sound. His eyes also, though I doubt he sees us','

“The hands are free!”

“Lift him up. Grab his shoulders and pull him over. Easy, now!”

“Mother of God, look at his head!” yelled the crewman. “It's split open.”

“He must have crashed it against the plank in the storm,” said the brother.

“No,” disagreed the skipper, staring at the wound. “It's a clean slice, razorlike. Caused by a bullet; he was shot.”

“You can't be sure of that.”

“In more than one place,” added the skipper, his eyes roving over the body, “We'll head for Ile de Port Noir; it's the nearest island. There's a doctor on the waterfront.”

“The Englishman?”

“He practices.”

'When be can,” said the skipper's brother. “When the wine lets him. He has more success with his patients' animals than with his patients.”

“It won't matter. This will be a corpse by the time we c get them if by chance he lives, IT bill him for the extra petrol and whatever catch we miss. Get the kit; wet bind his head for all the good it will do.”

“Look!” cried the crewman. “Look at his eyes.”

“What about them?” asked the brother.

“A moment ago they were gray-as gray as steel cables.

Now they're blue!”

“The sun's brighter,” said the skipper, shrugging. “Or its playing tricks with your own eyes. No matter, there's no color in the grave.”

Intermittent whistles of fishing boats clashed with the incessant screeching of the gulls; together they formed the universal sounds of the waterfront. It was late afternoon, the sun a fireball in the west, the air still and too damp, too hot Above the piers and facing the harbor was a cobblestone street and several blemished white houses, separated by overgrown grass shooting up from dried earth and sand. What remained of the verandas were patched latticework and crumbling stucco supported by hastily implanted pilings. The residences had seen better days a number of decades ago when the residents mistakenly believed Il de Port Noir might become another Mediterranean Playground. It never did.

All the houses had paths to the street, but the last house in the row had a path obviously more trampled than the others. It belonged to an Englishman who had come to Port Noir eight years before under circumstances no one understood or cared to; he was a doctor and the waterfront had need of a doctor. Hooks, needles and knives were at once means of livelihood as well as instruments of incapacitation. If one saw le docteur on a good day, the sutures were not too bad. On the other hand, if the stench of wine or whiskey was too pronounced, one took one's chances.

Tant pis! He was better than no one.

From the Audio Cassette edition.

Copyright 1981 by Robert Ludlum

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Bourne Identity 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 225 reviews.
vstrother More than 1 year ago
I used to hate reading. My philosophy was why take days/weeks to read a book when I could watch a movie in about 2.5 hours? I have owned the Bourne Trilogy DVDs since The Bourne Ultimatum came out. I love the movies, but the book is so much better. Mr. Ludlum, God rest his soul, is a great writer! There were times I literally could not put the book down and could not wait to pick it up again. It is action packed and suspenseful. I just finished The Bourne Identity and bought The Bourne Supremacy today. I plan on reading the entire series. Take it from someone who used to love to watch the movie instead of reading the book...BUY THE BOOK! I do have to admit that watching the movie helped me visualize the fighting moves that are mentioned in the book.
CommanderTuvok More than 1 year ago
The Bourne Identity

The book begins as a half-dead man with his body bloodied and ridden with five bullets expertly placed in his back, is dragged from somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea onto an old trawler in the middle of one of the largest storms seen in a long time. 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 himself in Zurich and discovers three things. One, his name is Jason Bourne; two, he works for a covert company called Treadstone; and three, he is being hunted down by an international assassin named Carlos for reasons he does not know. Names, pictures, and places trigger flashbacks and memories as he tries to figure out his identity. Throughout the book, Jason sees traps before they happen. When necessary he dismantles and kills people it seconds. He does things that one would never expect or believe possible for a man with amnesia. This book is a book of survival, instinct and skill. And it¿s about one man that has lost his memory and can do unnatural things. This book is about Jason Bourne finding his identity.
I immensely enjoyed this book, it is mature, exciting, and nothing in comparison to the movie that came out in 2002 by Universal Studios. I highly recommend it for young adults of 14 and up, but only if they are mature and knowledgeable readers. The book is an advanced read that is fast-paced and action-packed. But before reading this book, please remember it was written in 1980. Therefore, it is not as technologically advanced as what you see in the movie. Universal ¿revamped¿ the whole series to make it more appealing to a modern audience. I give this novel a ¿two thumbs up¿. If you choose to read this amazing work by Robert Ludlum, I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

Ludlum, Robert. The Bourne Identity. New York: Bantam, 1980.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
About 16 years ago, my cousin loaned me this book, raved about how great it was and told me I would not be disappointed. He also made it quite clear that I had to give it back! Well, before I even finished the book I understood why he said that. This is the beginning of one of the best book series you could ever read! Great plot and plenty of action, it's a definite page turner that will be hard to put down. I HIGHLY recommend this book and will be reading this series for the third (or maybe fourth) time.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a highschool student who has never enjoyed or finished an assigned book from my school, and my senior english class, allows the student to choose any book they want to read. After watching the entire Bourne Trilogy over the summer, and having loved the movies, i decided i was going to give the book a chance. I finished this book, and it was amazing. It was difficult for me to put it down, and i even had some teachers tell me to stop reading during class and pay attention to their lectures. The Bourne Identity novel is taking the movie and adding so much more to the plot and characters. What i am saying is that Jason Bourne from the movie is just a scratch of the surface to what Jason Bourne from the book is. I will most definitely be picking up the next book in this series as soon as i can,
Senna119 More than 1 year ago
I like it but there were spots in it that did drag on which drew the store out a little bit.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a phenomenal book in case you're the sort of individual who can get abook, and read for two days robust. In case you're not, then you may battle. Ihave a hour drive on the train to and from London each one day, so read afair bit. Before this, I had perused the vast majority of the Clancy and a couple of thegrisham books, among others The entire <a href="">Bourne Trilogy</a> series will mesmerize you..
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love the action in the movie
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This series should be read in order otherwise it s too easy to get lost.
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gbrett_5 More than 1 year ago
The book is totally better than the 1st movie. That's for sure.
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CaryReader More than 1 year ago
Never a dull moment with this one. The fight sequences were a bit hard to follow, but you knew in the end who would not get up.
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This is one of my favorate books. Great read
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