This is a reprint of a previous post which appeared on another website. Edits were made to place the text into the First Person
Once upon a time, I had an internet alter-ego who went by the name of “Carlos”. There is a great story about this, and maybe I’ll tell it again. However, after watching the movie, The Bourne Identity, I was curious as to the details of the movie, and I went to Amazon-dot-com, to investigate and possibly purchase the novel. I found three, and unlike the movie, all three books were centered around, or had something to do with “Carlos”.
So I had to get it.
I’m currently reading the second book in the series now, but I thought that I would share my first review of the first book, before I reviewed the second:
I’ve noticed a disturbing trend, and I found that Robert Ludlam, and his creative genius used the lore of the real Carlos to construct a work of fiction called, “The Bourne Identity”. It was made into a motion picture, with Matt Damon (who portrays Jason Bourne, very well, from his description in the book), however, the plot in the movie is almost completely unlike the book.
//TOO LATE – YOU READ TOO FAR //
While the Book is essentially about a man trying to regain his memory in a fast paced world of espionage, terrorism and murder, its best to descrive the book Chronologically. (Remember, that this book was not written this linearly, but rather, backwards. As the main chracters learns about himself slowly, as he stumbles on clues in a fight for his own life.)
- November 1963: JFK is Asassinated in Dallas Texas, Carlos is presumed to be
the master assassin in the event.
- Vietnam War: David Webb, a foreign service officer for the U.S., specializing in Far Eastern affairs, loses his wife and two children when a bombing raid strikes Phnom Penh. He later joins with “Medussa” as a Covert Operative. He’s an unofficial leader, and the most unpredictable of the bunch. He’s called “insane” by his compatriots, but manages to survive the most hellacious fire-fights behind enemy lines.
- March 25, 1968: After a semi-successful attempt by “Medussa” to covertly go behind Enemy lines, David Webb (a.k.a. “Delta”) kills a traitor named Jason Bourne (codenamed “Cain”) (and not “Charlie” as the VietCong already had the term “Charlie” as slang.) in a Jungle called Tam Quan.
- June 27, 1975: Carlos, starts his terrorism spree in Europe and strikes his first blow in the attempted murder of a Lebanese Informer and two French Counterintelligence agents in Paris.
- After the war, David Webb lived a quiet (yet destructive) life in New England, teaching at a small college.
- Treadstone Seventy-One is built in New York, to serve as an operations HQ for the capture of Carlos.
- Treadstone recruits David Webb, and David takes on the identity of Jason Bourne a.k.a. “Cain”. His mission is to infilrate the Terorist Underground in Europe, and become competition for Carlos, flushing him into the open to trap him and bring Carlos to justice. To do so, Webb volunteers to become brainwashed. David Webb is no more, Jason Bourne, master asassin is all that remains. Bourne is drilled on tactics, Intelligence, Counterintelligence, Survival, Espionage, and everything else Treadstone can cram into his human skull. In the end, he knows more Intelligence information then 10 computers, and is a walking death machine. Additionally, he is surgically altered to blend in, become a nobody in a crowd, to continue his role from Medussa, be a Chameleon. Funding will come from Treadstone via a Swiss Bank in Zurich, the account number is encoded to Microfilm and surgically inserted into Jason’s hip. As of this point, Jason Bourne is on his own. No handlers, no drop points, just him vs. Carlos.
- “Cain is for Charlie, and Delta is for Cain”
Carlos is translated as Charles, or Charlie.
“Charlie” was replaced by “Cain”
“Cain” was replaced by “Delta”
- Jason Bourne, a.k.a. Cain, makes a name for himself in Europe as a master assassin, putting himself at odds with Carlos and his network of Terrorists. Cain makes the bold statement that he will eventually replace Carlos, as the terrorists leader in Europe. He sets up various residences in Zurich, Paris, Budapest, and often uses hostels for emercency shelter. He has several identities and can change is appearance at will. For three years, Cain disrupts Carlos’ organization, takes credit for Carlos’ kills, and slowly gets closer and closer to the most dangerous terrorist in the world.
- Somewhere around this time, Jason Bourne is almost killed and loses all his memory surrounding his identity. He is a functional amnesiac. During this time, he is thrown overboard into the Medeteranian, and left for dead.
- August 23, 1980: Bourne misses a meeting with Treadstone, and is presumed to be somehow compromised (this is not the first time.)
- THIS IS WHERE THE STORY BEGINS At this point the reader knows nothing, and all these facts have to be deduced.
- August 24, 1980: An unknown man, (Jason Bourne) is hauled up by a French fishing boat and taken to Ile de Port Noir, a small Island off the coast of France, and put in the care of Dr. Geoffrey Washburn. The man had gunshot wounds to the back and head.
- August 26, 1980: Howard Leland, U.S. Ambassador to Paris, is gunned down by a sniper. Treadstone, and the rest of the world, think its Cain. Carlos is angered that the world thinks it is Cain and not Carlos.
- Circa January 1981 Five months later, after being patched up, the unknown man (moving under a passport of Geoffery Washburn of the U.K., makes his way to Zurich, to find this mysterious account and his name, “Jason Charles Bourne”. After he makes a withdrawel, he is found by Carlos’ network and the hunt begins.
- Bourne takes a hostage Marie St. Jacques, a Candian Financial Officer, and their whirlwind begins. After thinking he is a monster, she sees he saves her life and falls in love with him.
- Bourne is slowly learning about his identity, and is scared of the truth. As of right now, he appears to be a killer, in a bloody and violent competition with Carlos. Bourne slowly stumbles into his own network and finds people afraid of him, and fearful of their lives.
- In Washington, the White House Intelligence Staff is briefed with a potential security issue with Treadstone and their project Cain. After months of silence, and missed contacts, all their money has been withdrawn from Zurich.
- Bourne and Marie make their way to France, to learn more about Bourne’s connection with Carlos.
- In New York, Agents for Carlos kill the primary agents for Treadstone (including David Webb’s brother Gordon), leaving evidence that Bourne was the killer. The remaining agents for Treadstone begin their manhunt for the turned agent. Bourne is officially cut off from his previous life.
- Now with the US and Carlos’ forces after Bourne, he slowly infiltrates Carlos’ communication lines, disrupting Carlos’ information flow. Carlos is forced to kill 2 of his primary lieutentants, forcing him to show his hand, and giving Bourne more opportunities to strike. During which, Bourne learns of Carlos’ plan to kill “Cain” on 3/25
- Carlos follows Bourne to New York, where “Cain” leaves clues for the remaining members of Treadstone to find him, and Carlos. Unknown to Bourne, Marie alerts the State Department and explains everything. The Secretary of State attempts to intervene in Treadstone’s attempt to slay their turned agent.
- March 25, 1981: On the anniversary of the Original Jason Bourne’s death, Carlos’ plan to kill Cain as an example to the US Goverment and the Treadstone organization. Carlos and Cain collide and in the battle, both are wounded. Carlos escapes as Treadstone comes into clean up the mess.
- Months later, now officially home from the field, Jason Bourne learns of his true identity, David Webb. Now living under guard, courtesy of the U.S. Goverment, Webb and Marie, attempt to live a normal life. However, because he is the only person alive to have seen Carlos, he knows that eventually he will have to meet Carlos again.
I loved this book, it was a great yarn of intrigue and second guessing (on the reader’s part).
As you can tell, after the Bank Scene in Zurich, the movie takes off on a different tangent. Probably because of the recent truth of Carlos the Jackal, and how he was not the master terrorist everyone thought he was.
Several times in the book, Ludlam pulls out a surprise which makes you change your mind about the REAL story behind Jason Bourne. Is he, or is he not a bad guy? Is he really an assassin, or is he a spy?
I flipflopped on the issue myself several times, as Bourne learned more and more about himself.
I recommend this book for fans of the movie who felt like there was something missing in the explaination. The book moves with the same fast pace of the movie, and ends with a bigger hit then the movie does. And unlike the film, the book leaves room for a sequel. (And Ludlam delivers with 2 more “Jason Bourne” books.)