The Bourne Identity

In 1980, shortly after I left the White House a novel, The Bourne Identity, was published by author Robert Ludlum. I was quite surprised because the last name “Bourne” is relatively rare, especially in the US. I had been regularly in the news in the preceding four years and a Gallup poll had recently found that I had 7% name recognition in the country, high considering movie star Warren Beatty was recognized by only 15% of Americans. When I read the book I found that while much of the story and attributes of the hero bore little resemblance to me there were certain unusual features that I did share with him.


He was of Australian origin and my parents were both born in Australia. He had been with US Special Forces in Viet Nam as had I. Other lesser similarities could be attributable to chance, but the overall picture strongly suggested that the character had been modeled, at least in part, on me and my life history. Subsequently I read an interview with Robert Ludlum in which he was asked where he got the ideas for his stories from and he responded that it was from reading newspapers especially the Washington Post. Later shortly before his death my father happened to meet Robert Ludlum and asked him directly about the origin of his use of the Bourne name. It was he said due to what he had read and heard about me in the news media. Sadly there is no way to copyright your name.


© Peter G. Bourne - 2009