Title:                      The Bourne Sanction

Author:                  Eric Van Lustbader

Van Lustbader, Eric (2008). The Bourne Sanction New York: Grand Central Publishing

LOC:       2008016199

PS3562.U752 R65 2008

Date Posted:      February 2, 2013

ThePublisher description says:

Jason Bourne returns to Georgetown University and the mild world of his alter ego, David Webb, hoping for normalcy. But after so many adrenaline-soaked years of risking his life, Bourne finds himself chafing under the quiet life of a linguistics professor.

Aware of his frustrations, his academic mentor, Professor Specter, asks for help investigating the murder of a former student by a previously unknown Muslim 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, the Black Legion, and its lethal plot have also popped up on the radar of Central Intelligence, where new director Veronica Hart is struggling to assert her authority. Sensing an opportunity to take control of CI by showing Hart’s incompetence, National Security Agency operatives plan to accomplish what CI never could-hunt down and kill Bourne.

In Europe, Bourne’s investigation into the Black Legion turns into one of the deadliest and most tangled operations of his double life-the pursuit of the leader of a murderous terrorist group with roots in the darkest days of World War II-all while an assassin as brilliant and damaged as himself is getting closer by the minute . . .


I think this title is wimpy compared to the earlier Bourne books, and others I’ve read in the genre. The plot was a bit confusing at times, but I expect some of that in an action-thriller. My main problem was that the character of Jason Bourne was incredibly shallow. Much more time was spent developing the character of his nemesis in the book.

There were definitely a few grammatical errors and typos. Something else that annoyed me: Lustbader seems to be in love with the word “preternatural” and used it every time he could throw it in there. Why use a little-known word so often when a simpler one would suffice? Also, his knowledge of weaponry, spycraft, etc seems very sketchy– an “HK 1911 .45” handgun is something that doesn’t exist, for example. The action scenes and fighting scenes were confusing and difficult to understand as a reader. If you’ve ever read someone like Clancy, this will sound to you like it’s been written by an 8th grader. Lustbader is much, much better at describing beautiful scenery and vistas than he is at describing action and espionage.

My other problem with the book was more subjective. If you’re like me, you may get tired in this day and age of things that smack of anti-Americanism. In this book, the NSA is depicted as wholly evil, and the only military man (the general) is a ridiculous caricature of every negative military stereotype you’ve ever heard. I realize that there need to be villains, but I found it a bit silly. The subject of waterboarding is raised, and it’s treated as the most horrible, inhumane thing that’s ever been seen on earth. However, numerous people are shot, stabbed, tortured and maimed in far more damaging and invasive ways without a second mention.


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