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“The Bourne Identity” by Robert Ludlum

Posted on by Patrick

The Bourne Identity CoverWhen Andy was up in October, he was in the middle of reading the Bourne series by Robert Ludlum. I really, really, liked the movies and I asked him how the books where. And his response was “They kick the sh*t out of the movies”. Needless to say, I was intrigued. I was in the middle of reading “The Dark Tower 7: The Dark Tower” by Stephen King (I’ll be getting to those later), but I put the Bourne series on my list, and I am very glad I did. Read on for my review of the book…which might contain some spoilers.

The book starts out just like the movie did. Well, almost exactly. Instead of being shot while jumping from a boat, our unknown character leaps off a boat that explodes. While on the boat, he had been shot.

He wakes up in a bed in the local doctor’s house. The doctor, Geoffrey Washburn, heals his mysterious patient, whom he gives the name Jean-Pierre, and at the same time tries to help the paitent with his amnesia. They learn that “Jean-Pierre” has an account at a bank in Zurich.

Dr. Washburn gets “Jean-Pierre” a job on a local fishing boat. This job turns out to be a nightmare because the crewmembers aren’t so keen on having “Jean-Pierre” on board since one of their kindred had to be let go for the time “Jean-Pierre” was on the boat. They make his life miserable and finally they try to hurt him. And in turn, he hurts every man on the ship to the point of broken bones. “Jean-Pierre” has no idea how he knows how to do what he did and it scares him.

After returning from the sea, Dr. Washburn tells “Jean-Pierre” he needs to leave because soon the people of the village will be there to beat the hell out of him. Dr. Washburn determines it’s time for “Jean-Pierre” to find out what’s in Zurich and gets “Jean-Pierre” passage on a boat on its way to Marseilles, but the captain of the ship won’t take the risk of actually dropping him off in port. So “Jean-Pierre” has to jump overboard and swim to the beach.

While in Marseilles, “Jean-Pierre” learns that he is “J. Bourne”. He gets a passport and makes his way to the bank in Zurich. While there he learns that he is Jason Bourne (or at least that’s the name the bank account is in).

Up until this point, this might sound exactly how the movie goes, but let me tell you, it’s here that the stories diverge. As Jason tries to leave the bank he is attacked by men he doesn’t know and from there he runs to a hotel where he is staying. It is here, when he has to escape again, that Jason takes Marie as a hostage.

The story then unfolds as Jason and Marie have to figure out what’s going on and who to trust, while at the same time trying to stay alive. Every page is filled with fear for the lives of the characters and had me turning pages well into the night. I highly recommend reading this entire series…my reviews of the other books are coming soon.

6 Responses to “The Bourne Identity” by Robert Ludlum

Slava said on 2/4/2005 at 11:10 am

I’ve just finished reading the last one – The Bourne Ultimatum. By the end of the first book there is no correlation between the book and the movie left.And I don’t think it would be possible for the director to make a movie close to the book – just too much information and events are in the books.

Patrick said on 2/4/2005 at 11:19 am

I completely agree. The book’s story is just so complex. But I find it interesting that they drop the whole Carlos story from the movie. I also find it interesting that the movie took the angle to make Jason actually an assasin when in the book he’s not much of the sort.

Slava said on 2/4/2005 at 1:24 pm

True. You’ll see how Marie’s role is significantly different in the books comparing to her role in the movies.

Patrick said on 2/4/2005 at 1:49 pm

Well, I have already read all of them. I just haven’t had the time to write them all up. I finished “Sumpremacy” right after the New Year. And yes, Marie’s role is much different than in the films.

Andy said on 2/4/2005 at 2:14 pm

Apparently Ludlum had a hand in writing the script for the first movie, so I’m not sure what the reason was for ditching the storyline in the book. I rather like it when movies stick as close to the books they represent, especially when the book(s) are as good as the Bourne series. It’s like the Lord of the Rings movies. I think they followed the book about as close as could be expected given the vast amount of information put forth in the books. Since the book was considered to be one of the most important/influential written in the 20th century, the movie obviously did as well at the box office and at the awards ceremonies.

Now, take Troy for example. The moviemakers had the perfect script in Homer’s Iliad and didn’t seize the opportunity to make what could have been one of the greatest movies ever. Instead there was complete disregard for the poem and the final product ended up being, well, a big steaming pile of crap. Honestly, what’s wrong with putting the Greek gods into the movie as they were in the Iliad? Am I the only one who thinks Ares coming down to the battlefield and killing everyone with impugnity would make for a great action scene? Anyhow, I digress.

If you make a movie out of a book, stick to the book. The final product will surely be better off because of it.

falty said on 10/22/2006 at 9:30 pm


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