"Characterization is integral to the theatrical experience." -- Robert Ludlum
Robert Ludlum (May 25, 1927 — March 12, 2001) was an American author of 25 thriller novels. The number of his books in print is estimated between 290-500 million copies. They have been published in 33 languages and 40 countries. Ludlum also published books under the pseudonyms Jonathan Ryder and Michael Shepherd. Robert Ludlum
"A theater person should know what holds an audience and what does not.""Greater economic power will be in the hands of too few.""I have always preferred conflict of individuals over the battle of extreme ideologies.""I try as best I can to enter the realm of nuances of human behavior.""Life is extremely complicated."
Ludlum was born in New York City. He was educated at The Rectory School then Cheshire Academy and Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. While at Wesleyan, Ludlum joined the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity. Prior to becoming an author, he had been a United States Marine, theatrical actor and producer. 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 theater in a very similar way. I think it's all suspense and what-happens-next. From that point of view, yes, I guess, I am theatrical."Some of Ludlum's novels have been made into films and mini-series, including The Osterman Weekend, The Holcroft Covenant, The Apocalypse Watch, The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. A non-Ludlum book supposedly inspired by his unused notes, The Hades Factor, has also been made into a mini-series. The Bourne movies, starring Matt Damon in the title role, have been commercially and critically successful (The Bourne Ultimatum won three Academy Awards in 2008), although the story lines depart significantly from the source material.
Ludlum died in 2001 in Naples, Florida of a heart attack.
Writing analysis and criticism
Ludlum's novels typically featured one heroic man, or a small group of crusading individuals, in a struggle against powerful adversaries whose intentions and motivations are evil, adversaries capable of using political and economic mechanisms in frightening ways. His vision of the world was one where global corporations, shadowy military forces, and government organizations all conspired to preserve (if it was evil) or undermine (if it was good) the status quo. With the exception of occasional gaps in his knowledge of firearms, his novels are meticulously researched to include accurate technical, geographical, and biological details, including the research on amnesia for The Bourne Identity. Having said that there are errors in The Prometheus Deception for example, where he refers to the "English" Foreign Secretary - when it should be either UK or British Foreign Secretary.
Ludlum's novels were often inspired by conspiracy theories, both historical and contemporary. He wrote that The Matarese Circle was inspired by rumors 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 were only pawns of governments or private organizations that wished to use terror as a pretext for establishing authoritarian rule, not isolated bands of ideologically motivated extremists.
Ludlum uses the same fixed titling pattern of The Proper Noun] [Noun] for most of his books. Subsequent to his death, books written by other authors have carried the phrase Robert LudlumTM on their covers, thus asserting the name Robert Ludlum as a trademark. The actual author (not technically a ghost writer) is identified inside.
Some of Ludlum's novels have been made into films and mini-series, although the story lines might depart significantly from the source material. In general, a miniseries is more faithful to the original novel on which it is based.
1977 - The Rhinemann Exchange ... miniseries ... Stephen Collins as David Spaulding, Lauren Hutton as Leslie Jenner Hawkewood
1983 - The Osterman Weekend ... film ... Rutger Hauer as John Tanner
1985 - The Holcroft Covenant ... film ... Michael Caine as Noel Holcroft
1988 - The Bourne Identity ... miniseries ... Richard Chamberlain as Jason Bourne, Jaclyn Smith as Marie St. Jacques
1997 - The Apocalypse Watch ... miniseries ... Patrick Bergin as Drew Latham
2002 - The Bourne Identity ... film ... Matt Damon as Jason Bourne and Franka Potente as Marie Helena Kreutz
2004 - The Bourne Supremacy ... film ... Matt Damon as Jason Bourne
2006 - The Hades Factor ... miniseries ... Stephen Dorff as Jon Smith
2007 - The Bourne Ultimatum ... film ... Matt Damon as Jason Bourne
2011 - The Chancellor Manuscript ... film ... Leonardo DiCaprio as Peter Chancellor1
2013 - The Matarese Circle ... film ... Denzel Washington as Brandon Scofield1