The Bourne Identity (novel)
||This article consists almost entirely of a plot summary and it should be expanded to provide more balanced coverage that includes real-world context. (March 2011)|
|The Bourne Identity|
The Bourne Identity first edition cover
|Original title||The Bourne Identity|
|Genre(s)||Thriller, Spy novel|
|Publication date||February 1980|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Pages||523 pp (First edition)|
|LC Classification||PZ4.L9455 Bo PS3562.U26|
|Followed by||The Bourne Supremacy|
The Bourne Identity is a 1980 spy fiction thriller by Robert Ludlum about Jason Bourne, a retrograde amnesiac who must discover who he is and why several terrorist type groups, a professional assassin, and the CIA, want him dead. It is the first of the original Bourne Trilogy.
||This section may require copy editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone, or spelling. (August 2012)|
The Bourne Identity begins when Jason Bourne is discovered unconscious, floating on the Mediterranean Sea. He is rescued by a group of fishermen. While on the boat, Bourne regains consciousness only to find he is suffering from amnesia as a result of a traumatic head injury. The fishermen take him to a local doctor for help. The doctor finds a microfilm frame surgically embedded in Bourne's hip that contains the details of a bank account in Zurich.
At the Zurich bank, Bourne discovers that his name is Jason Bourne, and that he worked for the Treadstone Corporation. As Bourne leaves the bank, he is suddenly attacked by three men. He manages to escape by taking a hostage: a French-Canadian government economist named Marie St. Jacques.
Bourne forces St. Jacques to drive for him. St. Jacques makes her escape from Bourne, but is caught by Bourne's pursuers who pretend to be police officers. Bourne breaks free and rescues St. Jacques from an assailant who intended to abuse her. During the rescue, he is shot several times and St. Jacques takes him to a hotel to recuperate. While she is at the hotel with Bourne, she learns that he has no memory of who he is. She also learns that he has no memory of anything prior to getting shot and taking St. Jacques hostage. St. Jacques decides to help Bourne find his identity and she begins to fall in love with him. The two make love at the hotel.
Following Bourne's recovery, St. Jacques and Bourne head to Paris to investigate Bourne's connection with the Treadstone Corporation. Once in Paris, they learn that their attackers' leader may be Carlos the Jackal, an assassin whose trademark is a bullet in the throat. Carlos is considered to be the most dangerous terrorist of his time.
Meanwhile, in North America, a secret conference is being held by the head of Treadstone and members of the Pentagon's top brass, including an army officer named Gordon Webb. After the meeting, one of Carlos' operatives, known as "The European", storms the mansion in which Treadstone is based, killing everyone inside and framing Bourne for the murders. Alexander Conklin of Treadstone, a former friend of Bourne, is assigned the task of handling the matter.
While in Paris, Bourne discovers a designer's clothing shop is used as a drop-off for Carlos' spies' intel. While he is snooping around the shop, he is recognized by an employee named D'Anjou. He meets D'Anjou and learns that they were partners in a CIA para-military unit called Medusa during the Vietnam War and that his codename was Delta.
Around the same time, he also convinces a French intelligence agent named General Villiers to help him. Later, Bourne realizes that Villier's wife is a mole for Carlos. Bourne convinces Villier to pretend to be unaware of his wife's role with Carlos. After his meeting with D'Anjou, Bourne ruins the intel drop by creating a false frenzy among the workers by telling them that the police are onto them.
Conklin is convinced Bourne has gone bad and stole all the money in his bank provided for his operation. Bourne defeats Carlos from Treadstone, and then murders the people he was framed for killing in Treadstone, who bait him into a meeting at the Rambouillet Cemetery in France. However, Bourne arrives early and evades the trap while trying to prove his innocence. Conklin assumes Bourne will kill him, but Bourne frees Conklin instead.
Later, Villier kills his wife and Bourne takes the blame in order to bait Carlos into following him to the USA. In New York, Bourne finds the Treadstone Mansion. He bluffs his way inside past some of Carlos' men who are dressed as workers and are moving everything out. Bourne is attacked by a knife-wielding Carlos while sneaking around. Carlos shoots Bourne and seriously wounds him, but he still finds the strength to kill all of Carlos' men. Conklin arrives and forces Carlos to retreat.
The final chapter sees St. Jacques, and two other men tell her about Bourne's tragic past. He was a young Foreign Service officer named David Webb, brother to Gordon Webb. While he was stationed in Asia during the Vietnam War, Webb's Thai wife and their two children were shot down by a rogue airplane. Neither side claimed the plane. Afterwards, Webb joined Medusa and became notorious for his near-suicidal guerrilla tactics.
During a mission in Tam Quan, Webb discovered that one of his men was a double agent and executed him on the spot. The man was a criminal from Australia named Jason Bourne. Following the Vietnam War, Webb became a college teacher in New Hampshire until the US government recruited him for Treadstone. The purpose was to create an assassin to rival Carlos and draw him out to kill him. Webb took Bourne's name and became the assassin "Cain", taking credit for other peoples' kills as a way to challenge Carlos.
Publication history 
- 1980, US, Richard Marek ISBN 0-399-90070-5, Pub date February 1980, Hardback.
- 1982, US, Bantam Books ISBN 0-553-24296-2, Pub date April 1, 1982, Paperback.
- 1984, US, Bantam Books ISBN 978-0553260113, Pub date February 1, 1984, Paperback.
- 1986, UK, Grafton ISBN 0-246-11121-6 Pub date June 19, 1986, Hardback.
- 1997, UK, HarperCollins ISBN 0-586-04934-7, Pub date December 1, 1997, Paperback
- 2004, UK, Orion Publishing Group ISBN 978-0752858548, Pub date May 6, 2004, Paperback.
- 2010, UK, Orion Publishing Group ISBN 978-1409117698, Pub date February 4, 2010, Paperback.
Ludlum wrote two sequels to The Bourne Identity: The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, forming the Bourne Trilogy. After Ludlum's death, author Eric Van Lustbader continued the story of Jason Bourne in The Bourne Legacy (2004), The Bourne Betrayal (2007), The Bourne Sanction (2008), The Bourne Deception (2009), The Bourne Objective (2010), The Bourne Dominion (2011), and The Bourne Imperative (2012).
Other similar stories 
- The 2005 novel The Ambler Warning, also by Robert Ludlum
- The 2012 novel The Chimera Vector by Nathan M. Farrugia
- The Belgian comic series XIII