Last Updated on November 16, 2020
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Whenever the name Robert Ludlum is mentioned the first thing that pops up in everybody’s minds is Jason Bourne. However, to simplify his rich body of work to one character does a disservice to him. To be honest I did pick up my first Robert Ludlum work because of Bourne Identity. However five years later I have most of his works on my shelf and I usually highly recommend my book lover friends to pick up his other books. His works do have a common thread though, most of them occur in the modern era (relatively modern since his first novel happens in the 1920s) and often involves a hero, or a small group, working against a large organization who can affect things on a large scale. What is nice though is his works sometimes involve real world conspiracy theories which makes it an engrossing read. Robert Ludlum died in 2001 but what’s interesting is that there are still books that are released under his name. What happened is that after his death some books were posthumously released, but then some works that are written by a different author, sometimes uncredited, were also released under the Ludlum brand. The idea is to continue his legacy by promoting stories that follow the themes of his older works. I have personally never read those so I cannot comment on their quality however I do plan to do so in the future. With that said I will be suggesting two reading orders for Robert Ludlum. The first order will be based on my preference. I’ll be putting them in an order where his best known works will be the first ones you will read and lead up to his lesser known works but I highly recommend them. The second order will be based on the chronological release date for his works. As mentioned I have not read those that were not written by him so I will not be putting those in the list below.
Reading order by preference
Reading order by chronological release date
Robert Ludlum was born on May 25, 1927 in New York City, New York. He studied in The Rectory School, and Cheshire Academy. In 1941 he left home to join a touring play and tried to make it as an actor. However his parents intervened and he ended up serving two years in the US Marine Corps before attending Wesleyan University, where he got a BA in Drama. This was also where he met his future wife, the actress Mary Ryducha. For the next two decades Robert Ludlum worked as an actor, as a producer, and did voice-overs, as he had a famously deep voice. One of his produced works, done in 1960, called The Own and The Pussycat, included the actor Alan Alda. And while he found some success in the world of acting, the author has said that it was his experience in the theatre that contributed to understanding what his audience wants in his novels. This leads us to the very first novel he wrote, The Scarletti Inheritance. It was released in 1971 and it sets the tone for most of his novels as it includes a grand conspiracy, a group of evil men planning world domination, and a single hero to stop them. The book was an instant hit and within a year he released a new book. His most famous novel, The Bourne Identity, was released in 1980. Since then Robert Ludlum has written 30 novels, 4 under pen names and 4 published posthumously. On March 12, 2001 he died in his house in Naples, Florida, due to a heart attack while he was recovering from burns he had received from a mysterious fire incident that happened on February 10, 2001. His legacy still lives on through the releases made under his name, some of which are written by authors he has co-written with on previous works. At the same time a wide variety of film and tv adaptations based on his works allow him to remain relevant to a wider audience.
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