All 19 Jason Bourne Books in Order [Ultimate Guide]

While only the first three Jason Bourne books in order are by Robert Ludlum, he established a precedent and tone that has continued for twenty years after his death. Eric van Lustbader first began writing Jason Bourne thrillers in Ludlum’s stead and more recently Brian Freeman began writing for the estate.

The books are in the vein of classic spy thrillers like James Bond, but with the twist that Bourne wakes up with no memory of his identity or career. International adventure, intrigue, and betrayal follow throughout the course of the books.

About the Jason Bourne Franchise

The Jason Bourne books are just one example among many of franchises that have been continued after an author’s death. Other examples include Stieg Larsson’s Millennium books, V.C. Andrews’s estate, Agatha Christie’s estate, and more. All of these authors created franchises with characters that surpassed their own mortal coil.

Henry Morrison was Robert Ludlum’s agent and part of the creation of Jason Bourne from the very beginning. Morrison says that Jason Bourne has endured because of the reckoning he needs to face when he learns that his past is much darker than he ever anticipated, and possibly evil.

Morrison goes on to say that it struck a sympathetic chord with readers which led to its widespread success. As well, there is the appeal that Bourne is seemingly an every day man, but he finds himself in situations that the every day man could never handle as successfully.

Robert Ludlum wrote the first three books in the series before his passing in 2001. Those three books published between 1980 and 1990 sold 210 million copies before Ludlum’s death.

The series was then continued by Eric van Lustbader from 2003 until 2017 for another 11 books. Then Brian Freeman began writing for the estate in 2020 with four books in print and one forthcoming in 2024.

The Bourne Adaptations

Of course, when one thinks of Jason Bourne, one might immediately picture Matt Damon thanks to the successful movie franchise.

Similar to the book franchise, the movie franchise began with an adaptation of the original trilogy by Robert Ludlum. The movie titles also remain the same as the book titles. The first movie hit theatres in 2002 with Matt Damon as the star, The Bourne Identity, and was a great success.

The sequel, The Bourne Supremacy, quickly followed in 2004. Then the final book of the original trilogy, The Bourne Ultimatum, premiered in 2007. The conclusion to the trilogy is seen as the best movie in the franchise.

Next was the fourth novel, The Bourne Legacy in 2012, but it did not perform as successfully as the original trilogy. This film features a pivot to a supporting character, Aaron Cross, played by Jeremy Renner.

Following this, Matt Damon reprised the role of Jason Bourne in 2016 with the self-titled movie: Jason Bourne.

In addition to these adaptations there is also the 1988 mini-series, The Bourne Identity, starring Richard Chamberlain and the 2019 TV series which ran for one season: Treadstone.

There have been talks about a sixth Jason Bourne feature film since 2016, but nothing has come to fruition just yet. Damon has previously said that there would need to be an excellent storyline hook and the return of director Paul Greengrass for him to return.

In November 2023 there were reports that Edward Berger was in talks to direct a sixth film, but Damon had not yet seen a script.

Jason Bourne Books in Order

Each Jason Bourne book contains its own mystery and adventure that has a satisfying conclusion, so it is possible to read the below books in any order. However, it is strongly recommended to read the Jason Bourne books in order of publication.

That’s because the books do build upon the previous in a linear fashion. In the first book Jason Bourne wakes up with amnesia and no recollection of who he is or his past. Then in each subsequent book, a little bit more about his back story becomes apparent.

As well, the books that are written by Eric van Lustbader have an asterisk below. Meanwhile, Brian Freeman’s entry into the franchise is marked with a plus in the list below.

  1. The Bourne Identity (1980)
  2. The Bourne Supremacy (1986)
  3. The Bourne Ultimatum (1990)
  4. The Bourne Legacy (2003) *
  5. The Bourne Betrayal (2007) *
  6. The Bourne Sanction (2008) *
  7. The Bourne Deception (2009) *
  8. The Bourne Objective (2010) *
  9. The Bourne Dominion (2011) *
  10. The Bourne Imperative (2012) *
  11. The Bourne Retribution (2013) *
  12. The Bourne Ascendancy (2014) *
  13. The Bourne Enigma (2016) *
  14. The Bourne Initiative (2017) *
  15. The Bourne Evolution (2020) +
  16. The Bourne Treachery (2021) +
  17. The Bourne Sacrifice (2022) +
  18. The Bourne Defiance (2023) +
  19. The Bourne Shadow (Expected: July 16, 2024) +

* = Eric van Lustbader

+ = Brian Freeman

A Summary of Jason Bourne Books in Order

As we’ve already mentioned, it is not necessary to read the Jason Bourne books in order of publication, but it is recommended. For that reason, we’ve included summaries for the first ten books in publication order below. The summaries will help explain the scope of the series and the types of adventures that Bourne finds himself entangled in.

The Bourne Identity Jason Bourne Books in Order

1. The Bourne Identity

Jason Bourne wakes up and cannot remember anything about his past, even his name feels unfamiliar. His bullet-ridden body was fished out of the Mediterranean Sea and his face has been altered by plastic surgery. He also finds a frame of microfilm surgically implanted in his hip.

He is running for his life through a bizarre world of murderous conspirators. Finding out who he really is may just kill him.

The Bourne Supremacy Book Cover

2. The Bourne Supremacy

Jason Bourne is still plagued by the fragmented nightmares of his past life as an expert assassin and the stakes have just gotten higher than ever. That’s because someone else has just taken on the Bourne identity.

The imposter is a ruthless killer who must be stopped or the world will pay a devastating price. The real Jason Bourne must navigate the dangerous labyrinth of international espionage if he wishes to succeed. It is an exotic world of CIA plots, turncoat agents, and shifting alliances.

All the while, Bourne is hoping to find the truth behind his haunted memories and the answers to his fragmented past. There are two Bournes, but only one of them can survive.

The Bourne Ultimatum Robert Ludlum

3. The Bourne Ultimatum

Two men are summoned by telegrams signed Jason Bourne to a small-town carnival where they witness a bizarre killing. But the men know Bourne’s true identity and realize that the telegrams are from Bourne’s mortal enemy, Carlos. The deadly and elusive terrorist is also known as the Jackal and he is seeking a final confrontation with Bourne.

Now David Webb — a professor of Oriental studies, husband, and father — must do what he never wanted to do again and take the mantle of Jason Bourne back up. He plans to infiltrate the politically and economically omnipotent Medusan group. Then he will use himself as bait to lure the cunning Jackal into a deadly trap from which only one of them will escape.

The Bourne Legacy Book Cover

4. The Bourne Legacy

Jason Bourne is currently a professor of Eastern Studies at Georgetown University. He lives a quiet life, far from the dangers of his past. Until he finds himself the target of an assassin nearly as skillful as himself and framed for the brutal murder of his two closest friends.

So begins a fight for his life against unseen assailants and the CIA. That’s because the CIA believes Bourne has gone rogue. Now he must use all his skills to stay alive as he battles against a determined assassin, the combined skills of the world’s intelligence networks, and a shadowy figure in the background, skillfully manipulating events.

The Bourne Betrayal Jason Bourne Books in Order

5. The Bourne Betrayal

Bourne is already grieving a great loss when he gets the report that his last friend in the world, Martin Lindros, has gone missing. Lindros is a CI deputy director and was in Ethiopia tracking suspicious shipments when he went missing. He is Bourne’s last lifeline to humanity and Bourne will not let him go.

Despite his hatred for the CI, Bourne sets out to rescue his friend and finish the job of dismantling a terrorist network building nuclear armaments by cutting off their source of money. But Bourne does not realize that these men are the leaders of an incredibly dangerous group with ties from Africa, across the Middle East, and into Eastern Europe.

They have predicted Bourne’s every move and are counting on his unwitting help in their plans to destroy America.

The Bourne Sanction Eric van Lustbader

6. The Bourne Sanction

James Webb has shed the cloak of Jason Bourne and returned to Georgetown University seeking normalcy. But after so many years risking his life, he finds the quiet routine of a professor restrictive.

His academic mentor, Professor Specter, is aware of his frustrations and asks for help investigating the murder of a former student by a previously unknown extremist sect. The young man died carrying information about the group’s terrorist activities, including an immediate plan to attack the United States.

The organization is Black Legion and its lethal plot has brought it to the attention of Central Intelligence, where the new director is struggling to assert her authority. The National Security Agency senses an opportunity to take control of the CI by showing Veronica Hart’s incompetence and doing what the CI never could: Hunt down and kill Bourne.

The Bourne Deception Book Cover

7. The Bourne Deception

Jason Bourne was nearly killed in Indonesia after an ambush, so he fakes his death and assumes a new identity as he tries to find out who wants him dead. But in the process Bourne is beginning to question who he really is and what he would become if he no longer carried the Bourne identity.

Meanwhile, across the globe, an American passenger airliner is down over Egypt. Apparently, the strike was from an Iranian missile, but the world is wondering whether it was an accident or intentional aggression. Bourne’s search for his would-be assassins intersects with the investigation into the airplane bombing.

The Bourne Objective Eric van Lustbader

8. The Bourne Objective

As he faces down mercenaries in Africa, Jason Bourne witnesses the death of Tracy Atherton, an art dealer. It dredges up pieces from Bourne’s impaired memory, in particular the murder of a young woman on Bali who gave him a strangely engraved ring. It was an artifact of such importance that people have killed to obtain it.

Now Bourne is on the hunt to find the ring’s owner, but he never knows what he’ll discover about himself when he digs into the past. This time he finds his way through layers of conspiracy to a vicious Russian mercenary, Leonid Arkadin, who was also a graduate of the Central Intelligence training program Treadstone.

It was a covert course to create ruthless assassins but was shut down by Congress because of corruption. However, before it ended it produced Bourne and Arkadin, giving them equal skills, equal force, and equal cunning. It becomes clear that someone is pulling the strings to bring these two men into the same orbit in order to determine who is the more deadly agent.

The Bourne Dominion Jason Bourne Books in Order

9. The Bourne Dominion

A group of elusive terrorists are planning to destroy America’s most strategic natural resources, and Jason Bourne is searching for them. But he needs the help of his friend General Boris Karpov.

Karpov is the new head of Russia’s spy agency FSB-2. He is one of the most determined, honorable, and justice-hungry men that Bourne knows. But Karpov has made a deal with the devil and agreed to kill Bourne in order to remain the head of FSB-2.

Now two friends are on a collision course. There is a chance to avert the catastrophe, but if they come head-to-head, that chance will disappear forever.

The Bourne Imperative Book Cover

10. The Bourne Imperative

In a twist of fate, Jason Bourne fishes a man who is near death out of the freezing sea. The man is bleeding profusely from a gunshot wound and when he wakes up, he has no memory of himself or his past.

Then Bourne learns that Rebeka, a Mossad agent, is hunting this man. She has gone off grid, cut ties with the agency, and is being stalked by Mossad’s most feared killer. Are the answers to the mystery at hand back in southeast Lebanon where Bourne and Rebeka escaped following a firefight weeks ago?

The mystery seems to have a connection to the mission given to Treadstone directors Peter Marks and Soraya Moore to find the semi-mythic terrorist assassin known as Nicodemo. Bourne must learn the identity of the amnesiac to save his and Rebeka’s life.

Final thoughts

While the only Jason Bourne books in order written by Robert Ludlum are the first three, Ludlum launched an entire franchise with the creation of his amnesiac character. The mantle of authorship has been passed to Eric van Lustbader then Brian Freeman. Readers, however, keep coming back for the character of Jason Bourne.

Bourne is a blend of academic and assassin that readers absolutely adore. There is a contrast between his two professions that Bourne himself must reckon with. For that reason, and for the way his back story slowly becomes apparent throughout the course of the series, you should read the Jason Bourne books in order of publication.

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