The Life of Robert Ludlum

Robert Ludlum was an extremely renowned thriller novelist born on the 25th of May 1927 in New York City. He was an American citizen who spent the better part of his childhood in New Jersey. Being brought up in a well to do family, Ludlum was fortunate to join the prestigious schools, The Rectory School and Cheshire Academy, all which we believed helped him became the man he was.
He did his undergraduate degree at the Wesleyan University in Connecticut. Before Ludlum switched a career to full-time thriller novel writing, he spent his time producing and acting theatrical shows. He also featured in two-hundred television and stage dramas.
He was in the US Marine Corps before he settled down to become a writer. Richard Ludlum got married to Mary Ryducha (an actress), and the marriage was blessed with three children.

Richard Ludlum’s First Book
The first novel Richard Ludlum wrote “The Scarlatti Inheritance”, the book went into production in 1971. The novel upon hitting the shelves was an instant hit and debuted on the bestseller charts. The story in the book revolved around the Nazis and international investors, and those who read the book believed Richard Ludlum had a great flair for writing novels.

The second novel was published in 1973, and it was known as “The Osterman Weekend”, it was later turned into a film. After settling down to become a full-time writer, Ludlum started traveling extensively to find backgrounds that would suit the stories he wrote about in his books.

The Bestsellers
• The Scarlatti Inheritance
• The Bourne Identity
• The Bourne Supremacy
• The Bourne Ultimatum
• The Matarese Circle
• The Rhinemann Exchange
• The Hades Factor
• The Lazarus Vendetta
• The Janson Directive

Books Turned Into Movies
• The Bourne Identity
• The Bourne Legacy
• The Bourne Supremacy
• The Bourne Ultimatum
• The Chancellor Manuscript
• The Hades Factor
• The Holcroft Covenant
• The Osterman Weekend

His Latest Book
Before his death, the last novel Robert Ludlum wrote, “The Prometheus Deception”. However, his legacy leaves on and a writer (Eric Van Lustbader), continues with the Jason Bourne novels having published the latest “The Bourne Ascendancy” thriller novel in 2014.

The Bourne Sanction by Eric Van Lustbader

As soon as I see the names of Robert Ludlum and Eric Van Lustbader, I know the book will take me on an exciting adventure. The Bourne Sanction is no exception.

Jason Bourne, also known as David Webb, is back working at Georgetown University as a professor. Is this the life he really wants? Jason has had so many things happen to him in his lifetime and to come to a life of calmness is just the opposite. His two children are living with his wife’s parents on a ranch in Canada. His wife, Marie, was kidnapped and he was forced to do something he really did not want to do.

Moira approached Jason and told him that NextGen Energy Solutions has completed their new liquid natural gas terminal. The first shipment was due to arrive in two weeks and she wanted him to head the security procedures. Their biggest fear is that this would be a good place for a terrorist attack.

Professor Specter also knows that Jason is not happy being a professor so he asks for help investigating the murder of a former student by a Muslim extremist sect. The young man had some very valuable information on him when he died. The information consisted of information about the group’s activities as well as a plan to attack the United States. The organization is known as the Black Legion.

Veronica Hart is the new director of Central Intelligence. She is having difficulty asserting her authority and in a meeting with the President, General Kendall and Luther Lavelle, Veronica soon found out she was being undermined. The National Security now felt it could take over the CI by showing Hart was incompetent. They had a special way to do this – by finding Jason Bourne and killing him.

Bourne, in the meantime, is in Europe conducting the investigation into the Black Legion. This turns out to be one of the most dangerous missions in his career.

Will Jason Bourne survive or will the National Security Agency find him first and carry out their plan?

The Bourne Sanction is a novel that will keep you in suspense as you are taken on the journey through Europe as Jason Bourne conducts his investigation. As with the other Robert Ludlum/Eric Van Lustbader books, there is plenty of excitement that keeps this book moving at a whirlwind pace. The reader won’t know what to expect next as they go through the twists and obstacles of this book. This is a book you must read. Eric Van Lustbader is a master at writing thrillers.

Bourne Betrayal Book Review

Jason Bourne has quickly become one of the most well known literary characters in the world through the work of Robert Ludlum and the theatrical adaptations starring Matt Damon. Although the movies changed the plot significantly, the books have been revived with the approval of the Ludlum estate, Eric Van Lustbader has published three follow up books with another on the way for the summer of 2010.

The Bourne Betrayal is the second of Lustbader’s Bourne novels and it finds Bourne fighting against perhaps the most intelligent terrorist network he has yet to encounter. In a series of complex plans the network attempts to use Bourne against the United States by implanting false or misleading memories into his brain, kidnapping the Director of Central Intelligence and then after a long series of actions, replacing the Director with one of their own men whom has gone under extensive plastic surgery to look just like the real man.

Although writing this short review makes me think that no one could ever follow along with such a convoluted, unpractical story line each and every step of the story seems plausible while you’re reading.

While this book isn’t likely to end up on anyone’s best novel of all time lists it does give an enjoyable read with an element of science fiction with the transformation of the appearance of one of the terrorist leaders. It’s a fun summer read and for someone whom enjoys the Jason Bourne series of novels and perhaps most importantly provides a good bridge into the next few Bourne books which have been written by Lustbader.

The Miko by Eric Van Lustbader

Van Lustbader evidently has had a lot of martial arts training, has studied Asian countries and cultures, and has traveled a lot. All those interests appeal to me, and so I read him to learn what he knows that I don’t.

Unfortunately, the Van Lustbader novels I’ve read so far have been for too long, too complicated to retain any emotional strength and buried in a verbose writing style. And so, despite their allure, they have so far disappointed me. After I put them down, it’s hard to remember one from the other. THE MIKO is a good example.

The pieces are all interesting, but don’t fit together into a coherent whole.

The female student of a notable martial arts teacher uses a mysterious skill to kill him.

Hero Nicholas Linnear is helping a tycoon to seal a big deal with a Japanese company. Sounds good, but he hates the tycoon because he blames him for the death of a famous model, and Linnear is engaged to his daughter, who hates her father. And Linnear is friends with a police detective who’s disappeared in Florida while investigating the case against the tycoon.

Eventually we met anti-communist fanatic working for the CIA. Top-level executives at the Japanese company are mysteriously murdered. We learn that during World War 2 the Japanese company’s president’s father was a pilot who shared a life boat with the president of the company’s bank.

Then Linnear meets a woman who looks exactly like his first love Yukio, who he believes dead. This woman has the hots for Nicholas and eventually gets him, despite being engaged and then married to the president of the Japanese company.

And don’t forget the top secret project going on the bottom of the ocean.

Confused yet? No, then let’s add in the daughter of a prostitute and later trained in the martial arts. The man in the Florida Keys who’s shadowing a famous model protected or held prisoner by body guards.

And just when you’re starting to hate the tycoon, he dies — but the action keeps moving.

And we haven’t gotten to Hong Kong yet. Where the bank president manages to manipulate the Chinese against each other, even the representatives of the mainland Communist government (the novel was written long before 1997).

Yet it’s intriguing to read if, like me, you enjoy the descriptions of life in Japan and Hong Kong. The action is fun too, but would be more involving if I could actually understand what was going on.

Real Estate Investing Lessons From Jason Bourne

Have you ever seen the movie “Bourne Identity” with Matt Damon?

If not, you should. Great movie.

Or better yet, read the book by Robert Ludlum.

Now, there’s a particular scene in the movie though I want to talk about that’s really relevant for real estate investors.

Here’s what I mean.

Remember when he’s in the diner having coffee after just escaping from Paris? He’s sitting there with the German girl Marie still trying to figure out who he is and where he’s from and why he can’t remember anything about his life. Yet, at the same time, he’s incredibly in tune with everything around him.

And I mean everything.

From the movie:

Bourne: “Who has a safety deposit box full of… money and six passports and a gun? Who has a bank account number in their hip? I come in here, and the first thing I’m doing is I’m catching the sightlines and looking for an exit.”

Marie: “I see the exit sign, too, I’m not worried. I mean, you were shot. People do all kinds of weird and amazing stuff when they are scared.”

Bourne: “I can tell you the license plate numbers of all six cars outside. I can tell you that our waitress is left-handed and the guy sitting up at the counter weighs two hundred fifteen pounds and knows how to handle himself. I know the best place to look for a gun is the cab of the gray truck outside, and at this altitude, I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking. Now why would I know that?”

Here’s why Jason. It’s called Situational Awareness. From Wikipedia: Situation awareness (SA) involves being aware of what is happening around you to understand how information, events, and your own actions will impact your goals and objectives, both now and in the near future. Lacking SA or having inadequate SA has been identified as one of the primary factors in accidents attributed to human error (e.g., Hartel, Smith, & Prince, 1991; Merket, Bergondy, & Cuevas-Mesa, 1997; Nullmeyer, Stella, Montijo, & Harden, 2005). Thus, SA is especially important in work domains where the information flow can be quite high and **poor decisions may lead to serious consequences**.

Emphasis mine.

While Situational Awareness is mostly referenced in intense fields like emergency room care, police work, pilots, combat personnel, etc., it is completely relevant for real estate investing.

When you are evaluating a particular real estate deal do you ask yourself these questions?

  • What is your strategy? – Are you buying for cash flow, appreciation, or tax benefits?
  • Is the investment the best asset class or geography for that strategy?
  • Do you know the risk profile, population and jobs for where the property is located?
  • Is the prospective investment in the right neighborhoods? “Right” can vary depending on your goal and holding period.
  • What about team? Do you have the best partners when it comes to acquisition, renovation, property management, legal, title, etc.?
  • What about the street and block? Do you know what else is there? Percentage renters? Subsidized housing?
  • After all the above criteria are met, does the property fit your investment goals? Cash On Cash Return? Aggregate Return? Tax Efficiency?

If you don’t have the right answers to these questions, then you are missing critical information. Your situational awareness will be less than what is required to make good decisions.

Poor decisions may (and often do) lead to serious consequences…

John Sandford – Author Biographies

John Sandford (pseudonym for John Roswell Camp) was born and raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on February 23, 1944. He graduated from University of Iowa with a degree in American Studies and went back in 1970-1971 to get a master’s degree in journalism. He was married in 1966 to Susan Lee Jones, also a student at the University of Iowa. They have two children, Emily and Roswell. They moved to Minnesota in 1978. Susan died in 2007.

John did a tour in the United States Army in the 1960’s stationed in Korea where he worked as a newspaper editor. From 1968 to 1990 he has worked as a journalist on various publications. He was named as finalist to win a Pulitzer Prize in 1980 for his study of the Native Americans in Minnesota and North Dakota. He actually won the Pulitzer Prize in 1986 for a series of articles about the farm crisis in the Midwest. After burn-out from working the crime beat for twenty years, he was published as an author of two nonfiction books and many books of fiction. He still dabbles in journalism from time to time.

John does extensive travelling for book tours. While not travelling, he can be found at his homes in Minnesota. He has many varied interests including archaeology, fishing, hunting, karate (has a black belt), and photography amongst other things. He once canoed solo from the mouth of the Mississippi in Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico.

He has also traveled in Turkey, Egypt, Jordan and Israel. He has been involved in archaeology digs in Beth Shean in Israel and Tel Rehov near the Sea of Galilee. He was the photographer and a major financial backer.

In January, 2008, MinnPost partnered with KYSP-TV to send John Sandford and photojournalist, Eric Bowen, to Baden, Iraq for two weeks. They were imbedded with the 2-147th assault helicopter battalion of the Minnesota National Guard. The articles he wrote can be found on his website. He says he still thinks of himself as a journalist. Asked why he wanted to go, he says, “I’m going to Iraq because I’m interested in the war there, and because I’m interested in the cultural dynamics in the Middle East, where I have a good number of friends.”

John Sandford is world renowned for his Prey series, Kidd series, and Virgil Flowers series. He also wrote three stand alone books of fiction, Dead Watch, Dark of the Moon, and Night Crew.

He has also published two books of nonfiction, “The Eye and the Heart” and “Plastic Surgery”. John’s son, Roswell Camp, Designed and maintains his website.

Books by John Sandford:

The prey Series:

Rules of Prey (1989)

Shadow Prey (1990)

Eyes of Prey (1991)

Silent Prey (1992)

Winter Prey (1993)

Night Prey (1994)

Mind Prey (1995)

Sudden Prey (1996)

Secret Prey (1998)

Certain Prey (1999)

Easy Prey (2000)

Chosen Prey (2001)

Mortal Prey (2002)

Naked Prey (2003)

Hidden Prey (2004)

Broken Prey (2005)

Invisible Prey (2007)

Phantom Prey (2008)

Wicked Prey (2009)

Storm Prey (2010)

The Kidd Series:

The Fool’s Run (1989)

The Empress File (1991)

The Devil’s Code (2000)

The Hanged Man’s Song (2003)

The Virgil Flowers Series:

Dark of the Moon (2007)

Heat Lightening (2008)

Rough Country (2009)

Stand Alone Novels:

The Night Crew (1997)

Dead Watch (2006)


The Eye and the Heart

Plastic Surgery

Did I Really Write That?

When the subject of his memoirs came up, former U.S. President Ronald Reagan wryly remarked: “I hear it’s a terrific book. One of these days I am going to read it myself.”

Of course the statesman hadn’t written it but he was hardly alone in employing a ghost writer whose name never appears on a book’s cover.

Interviewed by Vanity Fair about her autobiography, Ivana Trump warbled: “To my surprise I find I have a great imagination. I don’t say I am the Shakespeare, but it’s not just about the beautiful people and the gorgeous yachts and the fabulous homes and lots of sex. I tried to put in more the feelings.”

It was great sales spin but she reportedly paid ghost writer Camille Marchetta $350,000 to write For Love Alone.

Whatever the ethics involved in ghost writing, Michael Walsh, who co-writes for those who lack his writing flair, is matter-of-fact. “Does anyone really believe that barely literate celebrities have the time or the skills needed to set down their life story?”


A ghost is a professional writer who collects first hand information about the subject and writes the book. There have been embarrassing mishaps when the ‘author’ during an interview reveals they haven’t even read it.

Big Brother personality, Pete Bennett, was pulled up sharp when during an interview he expressed surprise at the contents of ‘his own book.’ His publicist tartly commented: “You really should have read it, Pete.”

John Blake, of Blake Publishing estimates that as many as 80 percent of celebrity books are ghosted. Walter Winchell was America’s top newspaper columnist but it was Herman Klurfield who for twenty-nine years served as his ghost writer. For many in government and show business having one’s own co-writer is regarded as a status symbol.


Lucie Cave who penned Jade Goody’s My Autobiography says; “It is a must-have accessory for anyone who has reached a certain level of fame. Obviously these people cannot write their books themselves, so they need someone else to do it for them.”

The list of names adorning the spines of books is often impressive but their true authors are rarely known. Earl Conrad ghosted Errol Flynn’s My Wicked, Wicked Ways. It would seem that Dorothy J. Mills penned much of the output of sports historian Harald Seymour. W. G. Grace the cricketer legend was ghosted by the hapless Arthur Porrit who lamented: “Getting material from Grace was heartbreaking.”

One would need to wade through 529 pages of Hilary Clinton’s autobiography to discover that her speechwriter was responsible for most of it. In 1957 John F. Kennedy was accused of using a ghost for his Profiles of Courage and Why England Slept. Henry Ford’s My Philosophy of Industry (New York Coward McCann 1929) was written by Fay Faurote.


Many famous authors are heads of writers’ syndicates that churn out novels on an industrial scale. These include Edward Stratemayer (1862 – 1930) series Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, The Over Boys, and The Bobsey Twins; a total of 1,600 volumes.

Many others lend their names to the work of lesser known authors. These include Andrew Neiderman, Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, Naomi Campbell, and Clive Cussler. Clancy’s publishers say: “Tom Clancy creates the ideas for these series and the writers execute Clancy’s ideas. All are subject to his supervision.”

It is thought that 40 percent of books are ghosted but is it ethical? Michael Walsh says: “If there were no co-writers there would be few books. We take advice in fixing our cars, having our photographs taken; why stop there?

“There are hundreds of fascinating people with interesting stories to tell or experiences to pass on, but few who can bring life to them. If a co-writer achieves that then everyone benefits from the partnership.”

Agnes Keith – A Hidden Treasure in the Land Below the Wind

Land below the Wind is a well known expression here in Sabah, Borneo and a often mentioned. Where does the expression come from? How come its so famous and who made it a such a well known expression?

Malaysia has many treasures and one of them we found is Agnes Keith. She was an American author and journalist who lived in Sabah, Borneo from the end of 1934 to the beginning of 1952.

We got curious and wanted to know more about this exciting woman who lived under a longer period in Borneo and made such an impact on people that she still is famous today.

How did she end up in Borneo?

Agnes Keith was born in Illinois, USA in july 1901. After meeting Henry Keith an Englishman (later known as Harry) and marrying him she followed him back to Borneo in 1934. Harry was Conservator of Forests and Director of Agriculture for the government of British North Borneo (now days known as Sabah) under the Chartered Company and was also Honorary Curator of the State Museum. Their home in Sabah was in Sandakan on the east coast of Sabah. While Harry were away on his many trips and adventures all over Sabah Agnes started to write about her new land. She always kept a diary and could easily collect her notes.

The title of Agnes’ first book about the North Borneo (now known as Sabah), LAND BELOW THE WIND (1939), has become the unofficial motto of Sabah. The phrase was used by sailors to describe all the lands south of the typhoon belt, but Agnes Keith popularized the special connection of the phrase with Sabah, by applying it exclusively to North Borneo in her book.

She makes a vivid picture of the land she came to love. People, culture, adventures and her daily life gives us a picture of how life was here in Sabah back then.

It was followed by THREE CAME HOME (1947), which focused on hardships suffered in the Second World War, and was subsequently made into a Hollywood movie, and the third book was WHITE MAN RETURNS (1951), which tells of her life in Sandakan after the war.

All throughout her books Agnes Keith used her own drawings to make a more vivid picture of her adventures.

Agnes Keith house was destroyed under the war by Japanese. It was rebuilt and are now in care of the Department of Sabah Museum under the supervision of MS Stella Moo-Tan.

You must admire this woman – at least we do. She came from convenience to a small tropical place on the other side of the earth. No air condition – or the facilities were so used to today. Many times she suffered from Malaria and other tropical diseases. Her coming to Borneo was not as convenient as our trip was. In her time you travelled by boat for weeks!

Still her love for this country and the people really shine through when she writes. She came to love Sabah and Borneo just as we have too!

In 1952 Agnes Keith left Borneo – she died at age 80 in British Columbia, Canada

Everyday we experience new things in our new home land. Borneo is a exciting place to live and there is much more to explore. We can warmly welcome you to the Land below the wind! Make it your next destination and explore Malaysia’s treasures you too!

My Review Of Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Sanction By Eric Van Lustbader

As we have come to know, Jason Bourne is not one to sit still. He is also not one to be content to spend a scholarly life at Georgetown University as David Webb and live in an ordinary world for long. It is this character trait that is no surprise to the readers, who finds themselves on an action packed chase from Washington to Moscow and back again in this 6th installment of the Jason Bourne series. While the controversy over the original Bourne author, Robert Ludlum, and currently penned books by Eric Van Lustbader continues, the scores of fans of the Bourne series itself will not be disappointed.

As David Webb, still haunted by the love for his Marie and by the most recent time spent in his last adventure with Project Treadstone, he is not sure how much longer he can continue this “Webb of deceit” and wants to get back in action. He is approached by his good friend and mentor, Dominic Spector, who needs Bourne’s help. Dominic wants Bourne to get information about a former student who was murdered. He believes a Muslim extremist group did the killing, and when the student died, he had information on him about this group’s terrorist plans. These plans included an attack on the United States. This group has grown from an almost mythical organization, The Black Legion spawned during World War II by the Third Reich. Dominic pleads for help.

At the same time, Central Intelligence, now under the direction of Veronica Hart, is also aware of the danger of the Black Legion. The rivalry of the National Security Agency rears its lethal, jealous head and looks to discredit the CI and Ms. Hart by hunting down Bourne once and for all.

In a fast-paced, hold your breath, action thriller, Bourne meets his most dangerous and dastardly villain yet in a killer named Arkadin. “The Bourne Sanction” has Jason Bourne involved in the most treacherous campaign yet. From the hunter to the hunted, Bourne must decide who to trust if anyone at all. And if he trusts again, will it be his last time or his greatest triumph to date? Readers will hold their breath but let it out with the sigh of a satisfied reader when they finally must close the page on this one! Highly recommended (but not for the weak of heart).