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Robert Ludlum

robert ludlum

Robert Ludlum
25 May 1927 - 12 March 2001.

Robert was born in New York but brought up in New Jersey. After leaving home as a teenager, he started his career as an actor rather than writer. He stopped acting for a while and spent 2 years in the US Marine Corp, based in the South Pacific. On his return to the US and civilian life Robert attended the Wesleyan University Connecticut, where he met his wife.

The next two decades were spent working as an actor both on stage and television, and once claimed that a commercial for toilet cleaner put his son through college.

Roberts writing career started quite late in life when he wrote his first novel The Scarlatti Inheritance in 1971. The book became an immediate success and it was followed up by a novel a year. The Osterman Weekend was also filmed, but like so many novels of this genre, was not that good.

Robert Ludlum photo
Ludlums best novel the Bourne Identity was published in 1980. This has been filmed and is as far from the book as you can get. I believe that Ludlum helped definitively define his genre with this master novel, of betrayal and misunderstanding.

Like many of his ilk, Ludlum tends to be disregarded amongst the literati, as producing puerile rubbish. However as Ludlum once said

I don't believe that that my first name is Leo, or that my last name is Tolstoy. I'm a storyteller.
Ludlum is definitely a storyteller. Although in recent years there have been a few misses, his latest book The Prometheus Deception is back on target, and is probably his best work since the Bourne Ultimatum.

His publishers have announced that The Prometheus Deception will not be the last Ludlum book as he was working on several titles at the time of his death.

It looks like the publishers/ Estate of Ludlum are cashing in on the popularity of Jason Bourne with another book set to be released later this year (2008). I have to say that I am disappointed with this. The original Bourne Trilogy, went far enough, there was very little for Bourne to do, or for us to learn. The later Bourne stories have been rather disappointing. I just hope the new book will not be about his son. Any bets?

Well I think my comments have turned out be prophetic, quality of the Bourne books is dropping.

It is amazing that the estate of Robert Ludlum continue to cash in on his name some 14 years after his death. In many ways it seems a shame to pin his name so prominently on the novels when some are definitely below par. After a two year gap, the Covert 1 series has been reawakened. I have mixed feelings on this, and will wait to see what the new stories are like. Some of the previous novels were definitely bordering on the edge of reality.

To some up, if Ludlum, Clancy and Cussler are such bad authors why do they sell so many books? The answer, because in general they are ways for people to escape the humdrum way of life that many lead. How many school children have often played secret agent at school or in the local park. Ludlums books, were always pure escapist works, not meant to necessarily make a social comment or political point although some certainly are against the corporate world, but are there to entertain, and bring the reader back for more. How would the main character whether Jason Bourne or Nick Bryson escape that deadly situation save the world, and on occasion the girl as well without some erstwhile help? This is something overlooked with Ludlums books, occasionally beside the strong hero, you also have the strong willed woman to help the hero out, and get him through the death and destruction.

Ludlum would never win the Booker prize in the UK, because it is unpretentious escapist reading, and apart from Trevayne I would certainly prefer reading a Ludlum to the right on politically correct tosh that usually wins this sort of prize.

So how will Ludlum be remembered? Well in my view as the first of his genre. The spy thriller turned into a super heated race to save the world. Having sold over 200 million (yes million) books, he can't have been wrong.


The Ludlum Novels - Graphic Index - updated 13 July 2015
The Ludlum Novels - Text Index - updated 13 July 2015
The Jason Bourne Section - Graphic Index - updated 13 July 2015
Covert One Series - Co written novels - updated 13 July 2015
The Janson Series - Co written novels - updated 13 July 2015
Bibliography - All titles summarised in one place - updated 13 July 2015

The contents of these pages represent my own views and not necessarily those of my ISP