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The Onion Field | [Joseph Wambaugh]

The Onion Field

Hollywood. Saturday night. A broken taillight leads to a routine traffic stop. It shouldn’t have changed the lives of the four men involved, but it did. The Onion Field is the frighteningly true story of a fatal collision of destinies that would lead two young cops and two young robbers to a deserted field on the outskirts of Los Angeles, towards a bizarre execution and its terrible aftermath.
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Publisher's Summary

Hollywood. Saturday night. A broken taillight leads to a routine traffic stop. It shouldn’t have changed the lives of the four men involved, but it did. The Onion Field is the frighteningly true story of a fatal collision of destinies that would lead two young cops and two young robbers to a deserted field on the outskirts of Los Angeles, towards a bizarre execution and its terrible aftermath.

The Onion Field is the basis for the movie starring James Woods and John Savage.

©1973 Joseph Wambaugh (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“More ambitious than In Cold Blood and equally compelling.” (The New York Times)

“Wambaugh is the best in the business.” (Kathy Reichs)

“No other writer illuminates the heart beneath the badge better or more honestly than Joseph Wambaugh" (Robert Crais)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (230 )
5 star
 (80)
4 star
 (74)
3 star
 (38)
2 star
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1 star
 (16)
Overall
3.8 (158 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
3.9 (163 )
5 star
 (58)
4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
 (9)
Performance
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  •  
    Avalon California USA 03-03-13
    Avalon California USA 03-03-13 Member Since 2014

    Bibliophile, English Teacher, Wordsmith

    HELPFUL VOTES
    28
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    363
    14
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    17
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    Performance
    Story
    "Haunting"

    This true story is of a murder that shocked the City of Angels, and became the impetus for dramatic change in police procedure, both in potential hostage situations, and, much later, in recognizing and understanding emotional trauma, PTSD, and survivor's guilt.

    The characters are depicted with precision. I feel like I know them, or knew them, as the last of the four recently died (2012). Wambaugh is a master, a former policeman who writes with sensitive eloquence, an understanding of the people and places that makes his work leap off the page and seize your senses.

    I first read this book many years ago and have never been free of its spell. The audiobook is even better. The memorable individuals, immortalized in this, Wambaugh's best work, continue to puzzle and fascinate. The onion field is very near what is now Interstate 5 in California's San Joaquin valley, just over the Grapevine from LA. I travel this road frequently, and never pass it without a nod and a prayer for the victims, the fateful events so hauntingly penned here, and the loss of innocence that touched so many people. Thank you, Joseph Wambaugh, for this historical treasure.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Simon Saratoga, CA, USA 11-29-12
    Simon Saratoga, CA, USA 11-29-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
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    8
    2
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    1
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    "One of the best books I have listened to in ages"

    A very refreshing story told in a very unusual way - starting with the childhoods of the main protagonists and working through the crime and the subsequent drama in their lives. Fascinating details of how each of them is impacted by the crime and an enthralling read. Thoroughly recommended.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Betty 11-18-13
    Betty 11-18-13

    diverduck

    HELPFUL VOTES
    58
    ratings
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    53
    40
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    3
    8
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    Performance
    Story
    "Sublime narration from a well written book"
    Any additional comments?

    This is my favorite true crime book. Joseph Wambaugh brings three dimensional personalities to these real life characters, without judging them; That is left up to the reader/listener. A mixture of comedy within this awful tragedy. Jonathan Davis is a superb narrator for this particular book. If you have seen the film (a must if not) Mr. Davis skillfully captures a fine interpretation of the actor's voices...especially James Wood.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bradley Santa Monica, CA, United States 01-12-12
    Bradley Santa Monica, CA, United States 01-12-12 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    22
    6
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    1
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    "RIVETING"
    If you could sum up The Onion Field in three words, what would they be?

    THIS IS A TRUE STORY. UNBELIEVABLE


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    POOR PARTNER WHO LIVES.


    What does Jonathan Davis bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    GREAT READ.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    GETTING THE KILLER.


    Any additional comments?

    I WISH EVERY WAMBAUGH NOVEL WAS IN AUDIO FORMAT!!!

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    01-30-12
    01-30-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    289
    7
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    Performance
    Story
    "Too much minutiae for my taste"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    Better suited to someone who enjoys details of how someone's life has led them to this point.


    Has The Onion Field turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No I will still try other books in this genre.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    The narrator was fine.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Onion Field?

    I find the minutiae excruciating to read and would prefer more action


    Any additional comments?

    I got about half way before I gave up and still there was no onion field!

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Greenville, SC, United States 11-03-10
    Linda Greenville, SC, United States 11-03-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    26
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    "Never a dull moment!"

    Fast paced and really enthralling. Wambaugh draws you in and never lets go. I love his books. Wish more were available on audible. Very credit worthy!

    9 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Suzy Kearney, MO, United States 05-10-11
    Suzy Kearney, MO, United States 05-10-11 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    "Can't even finish it"

    This book was so slow to start, and I did not find it enjoyable at all.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Russell 04-07-11
    Russell 04-07-11 Member Since 2008

    I love books and animals.I enjoy all sorts of genres, anything from history to supernatural.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    233
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    214
    96
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    Overall
    "Good.... but LONG"

    This was a good book, but it felt as though it was longer than it should have been.

    I think the author did a good job of injecting feeling and emotions into his work, but he included way too many details and was a bit too wordy. This reminded me of In cold blood by Truman Capote - but much wordier.

    The narrator did a fantastic job - if it was not for this great narration I probably could not have finished this book.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    B Rose Ivins, UT USA 01-17-15
    B Rose Ivins, UT USA 01-17-15 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    29
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    96
    93
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    "Excellent book!"
    What made the experience of listening to The Onion Field the most enjoyable?

    The narrator, the prose like writing, so many things.


    What did you like best about this story?

    It's very hard to say what was best. This book is so intense about so many human feelings and behavior.


    Have you listened to any of Jonathan Davis’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Not sure,but he was terrific!


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Yes I did many times. Mostly cried especially for the officers.


    Any additional comments?

    This book is long, so I wasn't sure I'd like it. It is worth every minute of time. Has to be one of the very best books I've listened to or read. Incredible!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeremy 09-01-14
    Jeremy 09-01-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    29
    5
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    "Need to listen at 2x speed"

    Not that this makes this dated dud a worthwhile experience, but playing the recording at double speed makes it a quicker one while sacrificing nothing. Just a tip.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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