Cover image for The Chancellor manuscript
The Chancellor manuscript
Ludlum, Robert, 1927-2001.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Bantam Books, 1978.

Physical Description:
438 pages ; 18 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Mass Market Paperback Central Library

On Order



"[ The Chancellor Manuscript ] exerts a riveting appeal, as it seems to justify our worst nightmares of what really goes on in the so-called intelligence community in Washington."-- The New York Times Book Review

Did J. Edgar Hoover die a natural death? Or was he murdered? When a group of high-minded and high-placed intellectuals known as Inver Brass detect a monstrous threat to the country in Hoover's unethical use of his scandal-ridden private files, they decide to do away with him--quietly, efficiently, with no hint of impropriety. Then bestselling thriller writer Peter Chancellor stumbles onto information that makes his previous books look like harmless fairy tales. Now Chancellor and Inver Brass are on a deadly collision course, spiraling across the globe in an ever-widening arc of violence and terror. All roads lead to a showdown that will rip the nation's capital apart--leaving only one damning document to survive.

Praise for Robert Ludlum and The Chancellor Manuscript

"Ludlum stuffs more surprises into his novels than any other six-pack of thriller writers combined." -- The New York Times

"Engrossing . . . pure, adrenaline-raising escapism." -- King Features Syndicate

"A roaring ride on a roller coaster of suspense." -- The Pittsburgh Press

"Powerhouse momentum . . . as shrill as the siren on the prowl car." --Kirkus Reviews

"A complex scenario of inventive double-crossing." -- Chicago Sun-Times

Author Notes

Robert Ludlum was born May 25, 1927 in New York City. He enlisted in the Marines at the age of eighteen and received a B.A. from Wesleyan University in 1951.

He began acting professionally at the age of sixteen in the 1943 Broadway production of Junior Miss. He also had roles in summer stock and appeared in over 200 television dramas for such live programs as Studio One and Kraft Television Theater. He then tried producing with the 1956 Broadway production of The Owl and the Pussycat. He took the play, four years later, to his creation of Shopping-Center Theater at Playhouse-on-the-Mall in Paramus, New Jersey.

His first novel, The Scarlatti Inheritance, was published in 1971. His other works include The Matlock Paper, The Chancellor Manuscript, The Bourne Identity, The Scorpio Illusion, The Matarese Countdown, and The Bancroft Strategy. He also wrote under the pseudonyms Jonathan Ryder and Michael Shepherd. He died on March 12, 2001 at the age of 74.

(Bowker Author Biography)



Prologue   June, 3, 1968   The dark-haired man stared at the wall in front of him. His chair, like the rest of the furniture, was pleasing to the eye but not made for comfort. The style was Early American, the theme Spartan, as if those about to be granted an audience with the occupant of the inner office should reflect on their awesome opportunity in stern surroundings.   The man was in his late twenties, his face angular, the features sharp, each pronounced and definite as if carved by a craftsman more aware of details than of the whole. It was a face in quiet conflict with itself, striking and yet unsettled. The eyes were engaging, deep set and very light blue, with an open, even questioning quality about them. They seemed at the moment to be the eyes of a blue-eyed animal, swift to level in any direction, steady, apprehensive.   The young man's name was Peter Chancellor, and the expression on his face was as rigid as his posture in the chair. His eyes were angry.   There was one other person in the outer office: a middle-aged secretary whose thin, colorless lips were set in constant tension, her gray hair stretched and spun into a bun that took on the appearance of a faded flaxen helmet. She was the Praetorian Guard, the attack dog who protected the sanctuary of the man behind the oak door beyond her desk.   Chancellor looked at his watch; the secretary glanced at him disapprovingly. Any indication of impatience was out of place in this office; the audience itself was everything.   It was quarter to six; all the other offices were closed. The small Midwest campus of Park Forest University was preparing for another late-spring evening, the controlled revelry heightened by the proximity of graduation day.   Park Forest strove to remain outside the unrest that had swept across the university campuses. In an ocean of turbulence it was an undisturbed sandbar. Insular, rich, at peace with itself, essentially without disruption. Or brilliance.   It was this fundamental lack of external concerns, so the story went, that brought the man behind the oak door to Park Forest. He sought inaccessibility, if not anonymity, which of course could never be granted. Munro St. Claire had been undersecretary of state for Roosevelt and Truman; ambassador-extraordinary for Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson. He had flown about the globe with an open portfolio, bringing his Presidents' concerns and his own expertise to the world's troubled areas. That he had elected to spend a spring semester at Park Forest as visiting professor of government--while organizing the data that would form the basis of his memoirs--was a coup that had stunned the trustees of this wealthy but minor university. They had swallowed their disbelief and guaranteed St. Claire the isolation he could never have found in Cambridge, New Haven, or Berkeley.   So the story went.   And Peter Chancellor thought about the salient points of St. Claire's story to keep his mind off his own. But not entirely. At the moment, the salient points of his own immediate existence were as discouraging as one could imagine. Twenty-four months lost, thrown away into academic oblivion. Two years of his life!   His doctoral thesis had been rejected by the vote of eight to one by the honors college of Park Forest The one dissenting vote was, naturally, that of his advisor and, as such, without influence on the others. Chancellor had been accused of frivolousness, of wanton disregard of historical fact, of slovenly research, and ultimately of irresponsibly inserting fiction in lieu of provable data. It was not at all ambiguous. Chancellor had failed; there was no appeal, for the failure was absolute.   From an exhilarating high he had sunk into a deep depression. Six weeks ago the Foreign Service Journal of Georgetown University had agreed to publish fourteen excerpts from the thesis. A total of some thirty pages. His advisor had managed it, sending a copy to academic friends in Georgetown, who thought the work was both enlightening and frightening. The Journal was on a par with Foreign Affairs, its readership among the country's most influential. Something was bound to result; somebody had to offer something.   But the Journal's editors made one condition: Due to the nature of the thesis, the doctoral acceptance was mandatory before they would publish the manuscript. Without it they would not.   Now, of course, publishing any part was out of the question.   "The Origins of a Global Conflict" was the title. The conflict was World War II, the origins an imaginative interpretation of the men and the forces that collided during the catastrophic years from 1926 to 1939. It did no good to explain to the history committee of the honors college that the thesis was an interpretive analysis, not a legal document. He had committed a cardinal sin: He had attributed invented dialogue to historical figures. Such nonsense was unacceptable to the groves of academe at Park Forest.   But Chancellor knew there was another more serious flaw in the eyes of the committee. He had written his thesis in outrage and emotion, and outrage and emotion had no place in doctoral dissertations.   The premise that financial giants stood passively by while a band of psychopaths shaped post-Weimar Germany was ludicrous. As ludicrous as it was patently false. The multinational corporations could not feed the Nazi wolf pack fast enough; the stronger the pack, the more rapacious the appetites of the marketplace.   The German wolf pack's objectives and methods were conveniently obscured in the interests of an expanding economy. Obscured, hell! They were tolerated, ultimately accepted, along with the swiftly rising lines on profit-and-loss charts. Diseased Nazi Germany was given an economic clean bill of health by the financiers. And among the colossi of international finance who fed the Wehrmacht eagle were a number of the most honored industrial names in America.   There was the problem. He could not come out and identify those corporations because his proof was not conclusive. The people who had given him the information, and led him to other sources, would not allow their names to be used. They were frightened, tired old men, living on government and company pensions. Whatever had happened in the past was past; they would not risk losing the largess of their benefactors. Should Chancellor make public their private conversations, they would deny them. It was as simple as that.   But it wasn't as simple as that. It had happened. The story had not been told, and Peter wanted very much to tell it. True, he did not want to destroy old men who had merely carried out policies they had not understood, conceived by others so far up the corporate ladders they'd rarely met them. But to walk away from unrecorded history was wrong.   So Chancellor took the only option open to him: He had changed the names of the corporate giants, but in such a way as to leave no doubt as to their identities. Anyone who read a newspaper would know who they were.   This was his unforgivable error. He had raised provocative questions few wished to recognize as valid. Park Forest University was looked upon favorably when corporations and corporate foundations issued grants; it was not a dangerous campus. Why should that status be threatened--even remotely--by the work of a single doctoral candidate?   Christ! Two years. There were alternatives, of course. He could transfer his credits to another university and resubmit "Origins." But what then? Was it worth it? To face another form of rejection? One that lay in the shadows of his own doubts? For Peter was honest with himself. He had not written so unique or brilliant a work. He had merely found a period in recent history that infuriated him because of its parallels with the present Nothing had changed; the lies of forty years ago still existed. But he did not want to walk away from it; he would not walk away. He would tell it. Somehow.   However, outrage was not a substitute for qualitative research. Concern for living sources was hardly an alternative for objective investigation. Reluctantly Peter acknowledged the validity of the committee's position. He was neither academic fish nor fowl; he was part fact, part fantasy.   Two years! Wasted!   The secretary's telephone hummed, it did not ring. The hum reminded Chancellor of the rumor that special communications had been installed so Washington could reach Munro St. Claire at any time of day or night. These installations, so the story went, were St. Claire's only departure from his self-imposed inaccessibility.   "Yes, Mr. Ambassador," said the secretary, "I'll send him in.... That's quite all right. If you need me, I can stay." Apparently she was not needed, and Peter had the impression that she was not happy about it. The Praetorian Guard was being dismissed. "You're scheduled to be at the dean's reception at six thirty," she continued. There was brief silence; then the woman replied. "Yes sir. I'll telephone your regrets. Good night, Mr. St. Claire."   She glanced at Chancellor. "You may go in now," she said, her eyes questioning. "Thank you." Peter rose from the uncomfortable straight-backed chair. "I don't know why I'm here either," he said.   "Inside the oak-paneled office with the cathedral windows, Munro St. Claire got up from behind the antique table that served as his desk. He was an old man, thought Chancellor as he approached the extended right hand held over the table. Much older than he appeared at a distance, walking across the campus with a sure stride. Here in his office his tall slender body and aquiline head with the faded blond hair seemed to struggle to stay erect. Yet erect he stood, as if refusing to give in to infirmities. His eyes were large, but of no discernible color, intense in their steadiness, but not without humor. His thin lips were stretched into a smile beneath his well-groomed white moustache. Excerpted from The Chancellor Manuscript by Robert Ludlum All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.