We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
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.
Regular Price:$24.95
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

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 (191 )
5 star
 (70)
4 star
 (61)
3 star
 (28)
2 star
 (17)
1 star
 (15)
Overall
3.8 (123 )
5 star
 (52)
4 star
 (33)
3 star
 (14)
2 star
 (10)
1 star
 (14)
Story
3.9 (129 )
5 star
 (49)
4 star
 (47)
3 star
 (18)
2 star
 (7)
1 star
 (8)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Avalon California USA 03-03-13
    Avalon California USA 03-03-13

    Bibliophile, English Teacher, Wordsmith

    HELPFUL VOTES
    25
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    318
    14
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    16
    0
    Overall
    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
    REVIEWS
    8
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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
  •  
    Bradley Santa Monica, CA, United States 01-12-12
    Bradley Santa Monica, CA, United States 01-12-12 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    22
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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
  •  
    Betty Western, WA 11-18-13
    Betty Western, WA 11-18-13 Member Since 2011

    diverduck

    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    50
    37
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    3
    8
    Overall
    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Fiona Fort Frances, ON, Canada 01-30-12
    Fiona Fort Frances, ON, Canada 01-30-12 Member Since 2009

    I am a voracious reader given the opportunity and can usually find some value in any book. I think there are only 3 books I never finished.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    265
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    1
    Overall
    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
    25
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    309
    14
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    "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 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    21
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "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
    224
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    197
    96
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    29
    0
    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
  •  
    W. Max Hollmann Florida 06-22-14
    W. Max Hollmann Florida 06-22-14 Member Since 2008

    Non Fiction Reader

    HELPFUL VOTES
    149
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    60
    40
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Chilling: an indictment of our legal system"

    No one knows how they will react to the trauma that Carl Hedinger under went when his partner was killed and he narrowly escaped. The perpertarors were two psychotic killers and everyday nobodies. The most interesting part of the book, to me, is the legal morass that caused trial reversals and delays and how lawyers play the system. The only conclusion that you can take away is that there is a clear division between law and justice. If the (defense) lawyers can play the system and delay long enough then no will really care that a human life was snubbed out by the two killers on trial.
    The most tedious part was listening to the travails of Hedinger. He was undergoing what, today, is referred to a PTSD. At times you want to reach out and grab him and yell, "get a grip on your life." For this, I think, the author, gives too much credibility to Hedinger's emotions. Wambaugh does a good job of objectively discussing the legal system but, I think, for whatever reason, becomes emotionally committed to Hedinger and too fully sympathizes with him. I think he was susceptable to this disorder prior to the events in the onion field.. (I've known some people who claim PTSD and I beleive if someone had not come up with this disorder then they would have had to invent it as a rationale for their's and others' failures.) I got tired of hearing how Hedinger wallowed in his own sense of guilt for having lived. It reminds me of 60's psycho-babble.
    It is for my own sense of unease and inability to "turn the page" that I give the story a 3-star rating.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. C. Edens Georgia, USA 01-12-14
    J. C. Edens Georgia, USA 01-12-14 Member Since 2011
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    7
    7
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Stunning true crime tale from the 1960s"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    My dad recommended this book to me, as he spent 25 years in law enforcement, and said it was particularly affecting. The case in this book reverberated across police departments the nation over, impacting the way many of them interacted with dangerous people. I see why Joseph Wambaugh went on to do this full-time, because the story is gripping, and we get a great sense of all four of the lives and perspectives of the major players involved in the story.


    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    Yes! I try not to look up too many details of a true crime story as I'm reading or listening to it, since I don't want to spoil certain pieces. So I only looked this up in greater detail once I knew who died/the main incident.

    "The Gardener" is an excellent device for driving the story. If you get this audiobook, you'll meet him and know what I mean.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Not because it was happy, but the actual events The Night in the Onion Fields are WONDERFULLY written and read. You feel the same stress and fear and confusion all these men must have felt.


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

    I felt quite sad for Karl Hettinger. It seemed a deep tragedy equally as much for the ones who DID make it out of the Onion Field, who carried that burden far and long. Though I didn't feel very much sympathy for him, Jimmy Smith is portrayed as the unlucky, dumb, complex person he probably was.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 13 results PREVIOUS12NEXT

    There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

CANCEL

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.