Leading article: James Bond - Bourne natural

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The Independent Online

Bond or Bourne? It used to be such a stark choice. James Bond was wry, charming, relaxed. Jason Bourne was intense, efficient and didn't know who he was. Where Bond curled his lip, Bourne would break your hip. They were both lethal spies, but the difference between them was as obvious as the difference between a sip of vodka martini and a slug of methylated spirits.

But then Hollywood decided that Bond needed to be a bit more like Bourne. So Bond became gruff, efficient and even rather charmless. And now the books appear to be heading in the same direction. The latest literary instalment of the Ian Fleming creation, written by Jeffrey Deaver, reinvents Bond as a modern Afghanistan veteran. The spy is thrust into a world where "the other side doesn't play by the rules any more". That sounds ominously like the world in which Bourne lives. But why should the movement be all one way? Why shouldn't Bourne, as his memory returns, discover that he was educated at one of the East Coast's most exclusive private schools, followed by an Ivy League institution?

Perhaps Jason was an ultra-sophisticated WASP, with a taste for cocktails, before joining the US forces? If Bond has to be Bourne-again, why can't Bourne be Bond?