Robert Ludlum, American author, Died at 73


Robert Ludlum died on March 12, 2001 at the age of 73; he was an American author of 27 thriller novels. Born in New York City, the son of Margaret (née Wadsworth) and George Hartford Ludlum on May 25, 1927, his maternal grandparents were English.

He was educated at The Rectory School then Cheshire Academy and Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, where he earned a B.A. in Drama. While at Wesleyan, Ludlum joined the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity.

In the 1950s, he produced shows at the Grant Lee theatre in Fort Lee, NJ. From 1960 to 1970, he managed and produced shows at the Playhouse on the Mall in Paramus, New Jersey.

His theatrical experience may have contributed to his understanding of the energy, escapism and action that the public wanted in a novel. He once remarked: “I equate suspense and good theatre in a very similar way. I think it’s all suspense and what-happens-next.

Ludlum’s novels were often inspired by conspiracy theories, both historical and contemporary. He wrote that The Matarese Circle was inspired by rumours about the Trilateral Commission, and it was published only a few years after the commission was founded.

His depictions of terrorism in books such as The Holcroft Covenant and The Matarese Circle reflected the theory that terrorists, rather than being merely isolated bands of ideologically motivated extremists, are actually pawns of governments or private organizations who are using them to facilitate the establishment of authoritarian rule.

Among the most popular books by Robert Ludlum is the Bourne series. Although these books were not written and published one immediately after the other, they still form a trilogy sequel of one another.

Even after his passing away, the legacy of Robert Ludlum’s Bourne trilogy has been propagated by the author Eric Van Lustbader in books such as The Bourne Betrayal and The Bourne Dominion among many others.

The Bourne Identity has its main character as Jason Bourne. It focuses on the life story of Mr Bourne who happens to have retrograde amnesia and must therefore find out his true identity.

This is captured well as the book begins with Jason being rescued by fishermen who find him floating in the Mediterranean Sea. Jason discovers he cannot remember anything after he got hit severely on the head.

A visit to the local doctor leads to the discovery of a microfilm surgically implanted in Jason’s hip. Information from this microfilm reveals his name as Jason Bourne who worked for a company known as Treadstone Corporation. It leads him to a bank in Zurich and while there, three men launch an attack on him.