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1.0 out of 5 starsNOT FOR ME!
Reviewed in the United States on April 27, 2017
I kept reading, thinking it would get better. It did not. The book is basically a series of personality sketches on a bunch of misfit policemen. I've read other books by Wambaugh, which I liked. I was expecting a plot, but there was little that would qualify as that.
Read this book about 10 times over the years and it remains my all time favorite. Wambaugh has a special gift when it comes to telling a story. Funny, serious and sometimes sad but very much an exceptional story.
Reviewed in the United States on December 30, 2009
I never thought a book would challenge "Lonesome Dove," and "The Stand," for being the two best books ever. But this book is right behind them, and might pass "The Stand," when I read it again. 10 wild and crazy guys, before Steve Martin made the phrase famous--along with the women who take the guys' minds off the brutal life of a cop in '70s L.A. This book is exciting beyond belief. The 10 cops have a wide variety of personalities--from one real bully who gives all cops a bad name, to several likable sorts, to two guys who you can hardly believe made it in the ranks of the police, they are so wimpy. The two women who get the most exposure remind me of two I knew in my twenties--whenever that was. What a read--what a ride. Enjoy.
5.0 out of 5 starsOf all Wambaugh's books this is the best, and most are great.
Reviewed in the United States on December 10, 2012
I read this when first published nearly 40 years ago and just ordered another copy to re-read. It has everything from gritty police action to tragedy to humor and although cast as fiction can only be a collection of fictionalized accounts of real events known or experienced by the author (an experienced LAPD detective). It simply could not be made up. If you are considering buying it I would recommend getting the compilation of books written by Wambaugh:
Joseph Wambaugh: 4 Complete Novels Includes Blue Knight, Black Marble, New Centurions and Choirboys
5.0 out of 5 starsloved "The Choirboys" There was so much humor
Reviewed in the United States on February 16, 2015
I have been reading JOESEPH WAMBAUGH books for many years, I was and still am an addict... I had all of his books collected, once, but time and tide have put them 'somewhere'. I may still have them...loved "The Choirboys" There was so much humor, and also sadness in the book. it gives you, as most of Joseph Wambaugh books do, the feeling of what happens with cops as you read and ride along with them A very good book !
3.0 out of 5 starsHeartfelt insight into USA policing
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 12, 2010
Mr Wambaugh was a LAPD patrolman himself and this is a heartfelt insight into their lives and especially the psychological stresses they face. 'Choir practice' is the unwinding or 'uncoiling' they need in drunken revelries in all-night drink and sex sessions in the city's MacArthur Park. Choirboys are the bottom of the police food chain and predominantly 'unencumbered' males.
The book is a series of vignettes following the experiences of each set of partners. Each chapter outdoes the other in terms of crime, violence, abuse and the limits of human depravity. Mr Wambaugh introduces two new characters per chapter with some biographical details, spreads a fair degree of very black humour and then culminates the chapter with desperate experiences which traumatically affect the policemen - leading to a call to all for choir practice.
In 1975 this book was considered groundbreaking. It was bitterly angry at the treatment of street cops by the powers-that-be reflecting the author's own experience. Unfortunately, the book now appears dated and was rapidly overtaken by other books, TV programmes and films pursuing similar themes.
This is not so much a crime thriller, or even a crime novel, but more a semi-autobiographical, documentary style work strictly from the police perspective.
There is a big finish with devastating effects for the choirboys but by then the format of the book had become repetitive. It is a work which is heartfelt, cautionary and well-meaning yet regrettably it seems to have lost its punch. Perhaps that is not the fault of Mr Wambaugh but the way we have become de-sensitised to this type of book.
This book is not so much a story but a collection of anecdotes that a bunch of Los Angeles policemen come across daily while working as cops and then when off duty. They are a varied bunch of well developed colourful characters with apt nick names such as Spermwhale, Roscoe Rules and Whaddaymean Dean.
These hard drinking, promiscuous, practical joking policemen are the Choirboys.
Choir practice is the off duty drink fuelled sex sessions in MacArthur Park where inevitably things go wildly wrong and tragedy follows but before then there is an insight to the characters backgrounds and thus the way thier personalities developed.
This book is sometimes sad, sometimes funny but always addictive reading and while some of the antics seem incredulous it always seems authentic. The authenticity must be due to the author, Joseph Wambaugh's 14 years with the Los Angeles police department and the addictiveness is due to his great ability as a writer.
There is always an undercurrent, quite pronounced towards the end, where the author is critical of the higher ranks in the police deparment and rails against the incompetence and injustices of these higher ranks to the lowly beat cop.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 15, 2014
i had forgotten so much of this book,and the film of the same story...Joseph Wambaugh always was one of my favourite 'police' story writers...always written with a cynicism born out of experiencing the real thing...would recommend highly for "100 hundred books you must read"..jinx