A review of Robert Ludlum's critics

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Robert Ludlum, A Critical Companion
Published in Hardcover by Greenwood Publishing Group (October 30, 1997)
by Gina MacDonald
Average review score:
Reviewing the critics

Deconstructing this book, meant as a reference, criticism and review of Ludlum's works, leads to the inescapable conclusion that the editors and authors didn't internalize their own interpretation of Ludlum's methods as a writer. In addition to the regular commentary, after each section the book includes an Alternate Reading that purports to approach the books covered in that section from a different perspective. One of the key points in the book about Ludlum's writing is that his political commentary is generally carried out by allowing multiple sides of each argument to be presented verbally by a proponent of that side. It's stated that he is so good at doing so in a fair manner that sometimes critics have misunderstood which side of the argument Ludlum himself takes.

There is nothing approaching that balance in the alternative readings included in this book. They are intellectually one-sided, with views from a leftist academia presented without any corresponding idealogical balance in any other section of the book. Some examples of the idealogically loaded viewpoints used as alternative readings:

  • Feminist Criticism
  • Marxism
  • New Historicism

To be clear, I'm not arguing that these viewpoints should not be presented. However, their choice of inclusion says more about the idealogical biases of the editors and writers of this series than it does about the topics they purport to cover. On the one-hand they compliment Ludlum heavily for his ability to present both sides of the popular and unpopular political arguments displayed in his books, while on the other hand they don't live up to that standard themselves.

On a positive note, any student of Ludlum would be well served to use this book as a reference to the plots and themese of his books. It is comprehensive and gets most of the details and facts correct. If you are a serious Ludlum fan or need to do scholarly research on him, then this book will be a handy reference for you.

Of course, there is never any substitute for simply reading Ludlum's books yourself and they are excellent. - Thomas Sewell