“I try as best I can to enter the realm of nuances of human behavior.” – Robert Ludlum
Ludlum, who was born on this day in 1927 and died in 2001, wrote 27 thriller novels and perhaps is best known as the creator of Jason Bourne. The number of copies of his books in print is estimated at some 500 million, published in 33 languages. He also published under the pseudonyms Jonathan Ryder and Michael Shepherd.
A native of New York City, he started his “creative” life as a student at Connecticut’s Wesleyan University, doing some writing, but mostly acting. After a stint in the Marines, he returned to a theatrical career for a couple of decades before becoming a full-time writer. "I equate suspense and good theater in a very similar way. I think it's all suspense and what-happens-next,” he said. “From that point of view, as a writer I guess I am theatrical." Eleven of his books have been made into movies and 2 more are under production.
Ludlum said his novels often were inspired by conspiracy theories, both historical and contemporary. His protagonists are either one heroic man – like Bourne – or a small group of crusading individuals. They struggle against powerful adversaries whose intentions and motivations are evil and who are capable of using political and economic mechanisms in frightening ways.
“I start every book with something that outrages me,” Ludlum said when asked about his motivation. “I'm outraged by the FBI, the CIA, and computers that seem to have catalogued our lives. Power too often is accompanied by irresponsibility.”
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