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Publisher's Summary

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 says in his delirium - maybe code words. Initials: "J.B." And a number on the film negative that leads to a Swiss bank account, a fortune of four million dollars, and, at last, a name: Jason Bourne.

But now he is marked for death, caught in a maddening puzzle, racing for survival through the deep layers of his buried past into a bizarre world of murderous conspirators - led by Carlos, the world's most dangerous assassin. And no one can help Jason Bourne but the woman who once wanted to escape him.

©1984 Robert Ludlum; (P)2008 Random House Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    1,746
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  • 3 Stars
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  • 2 Stars
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  • 1 Stars
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Performance

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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  • 4 Stars
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  • 2 Stars
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  • 1 Stars
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Story

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
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  • Overall

Great Voice

The speaker did a great job on inflection, pause and his voice could make a lion purr. All in all my only complaint is that he did not record the remainder of the Bourne series.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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No more Robert Ludlum for me.

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

People who like action, action, action and nothing but. People who don't mind glaring improbabilities in the plot. People who like to hear Scott Brick getting out of the gate at eighty miles per hour and quickly reaching Autobahn speeds. Etc.

Would you ever listen to anything by Robert Ludlum again?

No. I have been an audiobook fan for ten years, and before that I read with my eyes for my whole life. I always avoided Ludlum, I think because I suspected that it would be like this. It is so self-serious that there is not a whit of humor anywhere. Jason Bourne is a Superman who will brilliantly escape every trick known to man, making Harry Houdini look silly. Blech.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Scott Brick?

I don't think that there is anyone who could read this dreck, not even Edoardo Ballerini, who could make it plausible for more than one page. It does have some cleverness amid all the over-reaching spy stuff, but the clever bits are mired in such implausibilities that they are submerged.

What character would you cut from The Bourne Identity?

All of them, most importantly the writer.

Any additional comments?

I noticed one fan who said that this was the greatest audiobook he had ever listened to. This is just precisely the kind of thing for people who like this kind of thing. There are too many truly fine books to waste your time on such drivel. Maybe it makes good movies, but that is academic, so to speak. Save your $.

17 of 28 people found this review helpful

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Lovers of the movie will be disappointed

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

A better written, more plausible novel.

What do you think your next listen will be?

"The Guns at Last Light," by Rick Atkinson

Did Scott Brick do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

The prose was dreadful. Brick's reading merely made the awful seem annoyingly portentous.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The conceit fueling the action (top-notch spy loses his memory) is an ingenious one.

Any additional comments?

"The Bourne Identity" (the 1980 novel) is a mess. "The Bourne Identity" (the 2002 movie) is a minor masterpiece. Equally astonishing is that the two follow-up "Bourne" movies (in 2004 and 2007) were just as sparkling and inventive as the first. For sustained high quality, the 2002-2007 "Bourne" trilogy is one of the marvels of modern Hollywood movie-making. Too bad the inaugural novel of the "Bourne" trilogy does not remotely approach the fluid style, conciseness, and inventiveness of the movie of the same name.

Of course, thoughtful and attentive readers will find both the novel and movies far-fetched. This is scarcely a problem in the movies, because the speed of their action and the mystery of the protagonist's situation give watchers little opportunity to dwell on the improbabilities of the plot. By stripping out some of the more roccoco plot elements, the movie's screenwriters also make the action somewhat more plausible.Implausibility is not the greatest sin in fiction.

Great novels can have great implausibility (think "Huckleberry Finn"). But skilled writers will make you suspend disbelief, something Ludlum (at least in this novel) seems incapable of doing. The prose is overwrought and the hero singularly unappealing. In this the novel contrasts strongly with the Bourne character memorably played by Matt Damon in the movie. In addition, Bourne's love interest, though certainly the most appealing character in the novel, is much less distinctive and plausible than the quite different character winningly played by the great German actress Franka Potente.

People who have seen the movies need not be worried that the movies take away the suspense of the novel. The plot differences and even the differences in major characters are big enough so that readers will encounter plenty of surprises along the way. Unfortunately, one of the biggest surprises is that an overlong, badly written, and confusingly narrated novel could be turned into such an entertaining and memorable film. I kept doggedly reading to the end mainly to see how the movie screenwriters performed such a neat trick: What did they jettison? What did they keep? What did they ignore altogether? After reading the novel and seeing the film, most readers / moviegoers may agree with me that the screenwriters deserve A+ for their efforts. Alas, the author deserves a gentleman's C, even from a generous grader. Almost all that grade is earned for the ingenious conceit that fuels the action: A spy who loses his memory. Among the worst features of the writing is the truly horrendous dialog. If you have friends or business acquaintances who speak like this, you would run for the exits.

I managed to listen to volume 1 of Ludlum's famous trilogy. There's no chance I'll be listening to installments 2 or 3.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Amateur Hour in Espionage Fiction

When Gilroy and Herron adapted this novel for the screen, they had their work cut out for them. This book needs a good editor in the worst way. Ludlum repeats dialogue whenever he needs a crutch to get him to the next sentence. His characters, including Bourne himself, have oddly inconsistent motivations. There are details that the author tells us and promptly forgets. The villains are mostly sub-Bond cartoon characters.

Scott Brick's narration is usually competent- I found his rendering of characters and accents consistent- but it has no energy to it. I felt like I was being read a ponderous history tome. It was a very unfortunate choice, given the quality of the writing.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Graham
  • Los Angeles, CA, United States
  • 06-15-12

Disappointingly Dull

When I bought this book for two credits I was hoping for a page turning thrill ride twice as good as any one credit book I have listened to. While this book does have its moments, it is mostly just a mushy unrealistic love story better suited for the romance section. Like the movies, I was hoping for two credits worth of suspense, chase scenes and plot twists. Unfortunately what I got was a story about a lady who is truly repulsed by the main character seeing as she is so traumatized by what he has caused in her life, then suddenly she is madly in love with him and seems to be healed of all the trauma she has suffered. Then for hours we have to listen to her worrying about weather her professional killer boyfriend is alright and safe. I wish I could have at least one of my credits back.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Spectacular

I've watched the video and read the book - it was nice to listen. Though storylines vary, all are spectacular.

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Surprisingly good

Any additional comments?

I usually prefer character development, but this book was so filled with action-packed awesomeness that I found myself enjoying it a lot! You like the characters enough to be rooting for them (which also allows you to go along with anything that pushes the bounds of believability). I particularly enjoyed the Bourne's amnesia--having him slowly discover incredible (often conflicting) things about himself was fascinating. The ending was perhaps a bit anti-climatic, but the wild ride of 90% of the book made it well worth listening to!

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Book vs movie

While I had read other reviews and still decided to buy the book, I will say

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It has nothing to do with the movie

If you watch the movie, ok, there isn't any problem the story of the book is totally different.
This book is a great spy thriller where the main character has amnesia and is trying to discover who he was.
It's amazing that during most of the book you will be with Jason and know as much as he knows, questioning everything that is presented to him.
Marie is a strong character in the books and her motives for helping Jason make more sense and she adds a lot to the story, she isn't just the main character's girlfriend.
The narrative is exceptional and the action sequence are really well written and the narrator makes everything even more believable.
There isn't much more I can talk about the story because it will spoil the book.

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Movie much better than the book

Way too long, awfully melodramatic. Just over the top. And the narrator didn’t help with his terrible accents. One of those rare occasions where the film is immeasurably better than the book.