Novels by Robert Ludlum and The Fictional World of Archives

Several of Robert Ludlum's espionage-thriller novels feature historical records, usually lost or secret manuscripts, that threaten to change the course of history if revealed to an unsuspecting world.

The following novels are those documented by Peter Gillis and other archivists-readers.

Original Novel Title: The Chancellor Manuscript

Publisher: New York, NY: 1978 (hardcover)

All quotations are from the hardcover edition.

One of the bad guys, an agent of Inver Brass, a secret society, poses as an archivist who photographs J. Edgar Hoover's funeral. To make himself invisible to security he wears "official-looking identification pinned to his breast-pocket was stamped with the seal of the Department of Archives. No one questioned it; no one knew what it meant." (p. 57).

Original Novel Title: The Gemini Contenders

Publisher: New York, NY: 1979 (hardcover)

All quotations are from the hardcover edition.

A most secret document reveals that Christ did not die on the cross but lived on.

Original Novel Title: The Bourne Identity

Publisher: New York , NY: R. Marek Publishers, 1980 (hardcover)

Feature Film Release Date: 2002

The film stars Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, the amnesiac CIA agent who also faces multiple attempts against his life.

Original Novel Title: The Bourne Supremacy

Publisher: New York, NY: Random House, 1986 (hardcover)

Feature Film Release Date: 2004

Matt Damon reprises his role as Jason Bourne. The CIA "archives" figure early in the film when a female agent investigates the Operation Treadstone files, the subject of The Bourne Identity.

  1. The Internet Movie Database

Original Novel Title: The Matarese Countdown

Publisher: New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1997.

All quotations are from the hardcover edition.

Sequel to The Matarese Circle. Ludlum's intricate plotting, trademark murderous carnage and cast of dozens shine forth once again. Archival records prove to be the undoing of the two nasty villains plotting a financial apocalypse with themselves as saviors to a grateful world. Yes, the Matarese are back!

Julian Guiderone, Son of the Shepherd Boy, whom Brandon (Beowulf Agate) Scofield had believed dead, shot by himself in a confrontation a quarter century ago, has maneuvered the heirs of the Matarese back into position. With his guiding, unprincipled hand, Guiderone orchestrates an intricate economic disaster. His associate is the direct descendant of the Baron of Materese, one Jan van der Meer Matareisen, a Dutch financial genius.

Scofield and his wife Antonia are helped along the way by Cameron Pryce, a CIA agent, and Major Leslie Montrose, an Army G-2 officer, whose son was kidnapped by the Matarese until he escaped.

Towards the end of the novel, historical records, including computerized court records, aid the good guys and girls as they seek to unravel the complex tapestry created by the Matarese countdown.

References to archives occur on pages 115, 168, 237, 387, 399, 403, 453.

Towards the end of the novel, one of the conspirators and owner of a brokerage house, is shown by a secretary an office where computerized records are stored "on computer disks, cataloged by date, day, and time of entry." (p. 464). Inside the office is "a huge white file cabinet; she opened it, revealing shelves of disks, the shelves in sections by years and months." (p. 465). The firm owner then spends nearly seven hours examining over 4,000 electronic documents stretching back three years. For anyone who has spent time reviewing computer records, this does seem like a stretch, as that would mean 570 documents per hour or close to 10 documents per minute excluding disk access times.

Original Novel Title: The Sigma Protocol

Publisher: New York, NY: BSt. Martin's Press, 2001.

About Robert Ludlum and His Novels

Greenberg, Martin H., ed. The Robert Ludlum Companion. New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1993.

Macdonald, Gina. Robert Ludlum: A Critical Companion. Critical Companions to Popular Contemporary Writers. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1997.

CONTENTS: The Fictional World of Archives

Submitted by David Mattison, 1997.11.26; based on contributions from Ann Pederson, 1997.10.27. Updated 2007.03.18.