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The Lords of Discipline

4.27  ·  Rating Details ·  20,642 Ratings  ·  1,120 Reviews
In this powerful, mesmerizing, and acclaimed bestseller, Pat Conroy sweeps us into the turbulent world of four young men—friends, cadets, and blood brothers—and their days of hazing, heartbreak, pride, betrayal, and, ultimately, humanity. We go deep into the heart of the novel’s hero, Will McLean, a rebellious outsider with his own personal code of honor who is battling in ...more
Paperback, 592 pages
Published March 26th 2002 by Dial Press Trade Paperback (first published 1980)
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Arlene Most people who were raised in the South know the Citadel and it did not surprise me to read of the methods used to turn boys to men.
Larry Claire's answere is right...and not...I agree with her that the book describes the Citadel (the thinly veiled real world "Institute") very well...

Claire's answere is right...and not...I agree with her that the book describes the Citadel (the thinly veiled real world "Institute") very well...

...but that's not to say that it describes miltary training well...two rather different things...

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Community Reviews

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Pouting Always
Feb 09, 2017 Pouting Always rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I love Pat Conroy and I don't think I could ever do justice when reviewing any of his books. His writing is always so rich and draws me in with it's vivid imagery and he always somehow manages to convey so much emotion through his writing that I always feel really affected by it even months after reading it. This book was excellent, the characters were deep and complex and the plot line was really heavy but well constructed. He managed to address issues like perceptions of masculinity and social ...more
Dec 28, 2009 Jana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I'm a bit scared that I won't be able to describe how much I love this book and that I’ll screw up this review. Every time I have the same problem with Conroy. Every time when I finish reading ''him'' I have this properly deep ache. I get spoiled and I find myself measuring almost everything I’ve read so far.

I even get angry because I know it will take a long and thorough research to find book(s), author(s) that could replace this Pat Conroy feeling. And I never do find them, I never managed. T
Jan 02, 2008 George rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: E V E R Y O N E!!!
This would be the 3rd unforgettable book I've read by Mr. Conroy in the past year, and to date. I just love reading his work. There is no other way to put it. He just simply writes, in my humble opinion, the most beautiful sentences I have ever read. He has an unflinching capacity to be so brutally honest it often hurts. But it is the greatest pain one can recieve from a great novel. The amount of passion, pain, and pure adrenaline within the pages of this book will not let the reader put this o ...more
Muhammad K
Oct 04, 2015 Muhammad K rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: See 5th body of text in review
Recommended to Muhammad by: English Class
“The objects you valued defined you.” (Page 376, The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy).

Friedrich Nietzsche said, “There are no beautiful surfaces without a terrible depth.” The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy is able to demonstrate this with meticulous detail. It focuses on Will McLean’s dark experiences in his last year at the Carolina Military Institute, a school where administration turns the other cheek to vicious hazing practices designed to produce “real men.” This is a story about lov
Steffany Cartellone
I love Conroy's humor in this book, the way he uses it to diffuse some incredibly raw scenes. I cried so hard when Pig walks down the line and the men turn their back on him. And then the train. Ugh. It absolutely broke my heart. I love all of Conroy's books for their descriptions, for introducing me to the beautiful South, and for his characters. He has strong people with strong issues which makes them real. And the men are vulnerable and strong and that's not something you see in many books. T ...more
Jul 18, 2008 Buck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Buck by: Linda Griffin
I was introduced to this book at Pat Conroy by my high school algebra teacher. She was reading the book just after it came out and suggested that we all read it. I think I may have been the only one who did.

I immediately fell in love with this work. Conroy's descriptions of Charleston are priceless. Some of my favorite quotes come from this book.

I return to this work yearly to explore my old friends once more and with each reading I find a nuance that I had overlooked in the past.

From the openin
Nov 19, 2007 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I read this book over the course of two days in September 2000. I could not put it down. It was recommended to me by a friend who attend The Citadel. I rarely read books as fast as I read this one. I highly recommend it.
Nick Pageant
So this isn't porn? Oh, well, I'll still give it a go.
Caley Rogers
Feb 02, 2008 Caley Rogers rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who want a glimpse into what goes on at a military college.
Fantastic book! Pat Conroy does an excellent job conveying the life of a student at Carolina Military Institute (based on the Citadel). Conroy has a wonderful writing style that really enables the reader to visualize everything in the novel, from the atmosphere of Charleson to the vicious beating the cadets endure. The book is told from one boy's point of view and begins with his senior year, but has flashbacks to his earlier years. While you may flinch at the violence that is tolerated at such ...more
Dec 10, 2007 Drew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of exceptional literature
This is quite simply my very favorite book of all time. Pat Conroy draws upon some of the events of his days as a cadet at The Citadel to tell the story of Will McLean, a senior who attends the fictional Carolina Military Institute in Charleston, South Carolina on a basketball scholarship. Will is charged with shepherding the Institute's first black cadet, Tom Pearce, through his freshman year at CMI. In Charleston, South Carolina, in 1967, Pearce is being welcomed through the Gates of Legrand w ...more
Oh wow, just wow.....I know that I should be the president of the "I love Pat Conroy fan club", but this book was just in a word fantastic. I went through the gauntlet of emotions while reading this story. Mr Conroy remains in my mind the consummate story teller. He lays his emotions out in the open and fills his characters with such reality that you would know them if they walked into a room in which you were seated.

This book about a young man's coming of age while enrolled in Southern military
This is one of my favorite Conroy books, though the subject matter isn't easyfor those of us who know The Citadel, but there's much that's true about it back in the day. It's a different place now, though.
My son read 18 pages of it and announced he knew who the best living author in SC is. I have multiple copies on my shelf as I believe in spreading a good thing. Some people, however, were less than thrilled with this book. It made it to a Banned/Challenged Books list. It was challenged in the
May 05, 2014 George rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ipad, pat-conroy

"Cruelty was an easy sport to master when practiced anonymously."—screen 971

Any atrocity is okay if it's done for the sake of the tribe.

THE LORDS IF DISCIPLINE, by Pat Conroy, is one of the most compelling, 'hard-to-put-down' novels I've ever read. It brutally probes the subtlest nuances of honor, of integrity, of character, of cruelty, of callousness, and of fear.

How have I missed reading this incredibly haunting story, first published in 1980, for thirty-fo
Jun 13, 2008 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rare indeed is it that I, someone early to bed and late to rise, finds himself wide awake at 1:30am unable to even consider going to bed until the book being read is finished. This almost unbelievable scenario took place last night as I kept turning the pages of this book.

This is the 3rd or 4th Conroy novel I have read to date (I have my Losing Season on the shelf) and it is without doubt the best so far. The characters, the dialog, the quality of the plot, and the intensity of the writing is a
Apr 26, 2008 Claudia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Claudia by: Danny
One of my students was being recruited to play football at the Citadel, the fictional setting for this book. I told him I couldn't let him go until he read this book. Conroy's said this book is the reason for years he was not welcomed to the campus. Now it's included in the curriculum. Deep, rich, eloquent. I loved this one.
Feb 10, 2017 Bill rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, dnf
54% in and I just can't do it anymore.

Hard to believe this is the same guy who wrote The Prince of Tides, and I'm so thankful I hadn't read Lords of Discipline before that because there is no way I would have read Pat Conroy again.

The Prince of Tides was immensely readable. Fantastic characters, and an even narrative that made it such an absorbing read. While Lords of Discipline had fine characters, the narrative was, at best, uneven, and in dire need of a good editor.

Sprawling and highly repeti
Patricia Kurz
Jul 02, 2012 Patricia Kurz rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any Southern fiction fan, Conroy fans
Shelves: fiction-novel
Only because it's Conroy is it 3* -- else 2...

I know that this book is the foundation for most of Conroy's story telling, but I have to say, that perhaps because of his immaturity in his writing career at that time, it is poorly edited and a bit self-inflated.

The descriptions of some of the initiations of the military school were so repetitive, so boring, that after a while, one did not experience the horror any longer. The plight of the African American kid could have been so much more deeply
Jun 22, 2011 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I adore Pat Conroy to a degree that is fanatical. He writes the most beautiful sentences about the most heartbreaking yet real human relationships I've ever read in contemporary fiction and non-fiction. This is my favorite of his novels, but I haven't read them all and that could change as I read more and as I age. Perhaps I love this book so much because all the conflict and action centers around a tight-knit group of friends, or maybe it's because the central characters are in college--as I wa ...more
Keenan Johnston
Sep 30, 2015 Keenan Johnston rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I've read this year. Could not put it down.

I write this one week before I head to The Citadel to witness my brother receive his Citadel ring, so have some decent perspective, though nothing like actually going through 4 years at The Citadel. The Citadel is an incredibly unique experience, unparalleled with any other college experience. I can't ever know what exactly it is like to be a cadet there, but this book hits on all the emotions I would imagine in such a beautiful wa
Annie Myers
Jun 24, 2007 Annie Myers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A powerful, moving story written in Conroy's trademark poetic style. Some parts of it were harder for me to read than even the descriptions of mental illness in The Prince of Tides, or the Holocaust story woven through Beach Music. I found it immensely disturbing that young men could be so cruel to one another. I was impressed by the way Conroy captured and portrayed the inconsistency and confusion of the main character, Will, bearing in mind that Will was a young man between the ages of 18 and ...more
Sean Chick
Apr 30, 2014 Sean Chick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At times long and propelled by overly florid language and pointless asides. Yet, there is a loving poetry to this complicated tale of honor and manhood. I could write a whole paper on why this book was so moving but time is lacking now. Suffice to say, I loved this book when I was 14. It opened my eyes, it was the start of a slow rebellion against the conservatism I was force fed in the bosom of the west bank of New Orleans. Now, it is like a wise reflection of a time and a world I did not know ...more
Dec 31, 2007 Tom rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The title of this book makes it sound like Fabio should be posing on the cover. However, the book is absolutely riveting. It's about Will Macleans's trip through four years of The Citadel, the military college in South Carolina where Pat Conroy did in fact go. It's structured around his task of trying to assist the first black cadet to enter the citadel, but is mostly about Will's friendships and battles against the more sadistic members of his class.
Hamzah Jhaveri
Sep 12, 2015 Hamzah Jhaveri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

In The Lords of Discipline, Pat Conroy describes the epic tale of Will McLean, a senior attendee of the South Carolinian military school, the Citadel, or more commonly referred to as the Institute. He gives several first hand accounts of the lengths of hazing in which the school has housed since its early founding, including a detailed section dedicated to his cringeworthy freshman or "plebe" year.

The book focuses on Will's task of looking after the Institute's first African American
Sarah Yang
Aug 29, 2015 Sarah Yang rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Fox and Newman were smoking cigarettes and put them out on my arms…They jerked me up. I was put against the wall bracing, all fourteen of them still with me, all fourteen of their mouths pressing in upon me…five times I fainted. The screams again…”

Lords of Discipline was certainly different than anything I have ever read previously because of the sheer intense nature of the events that happen in this book. The book was extremely graphic in nature, so I understand why the book was banned/challe
Feb 16, 2012 Ensiform rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The narrator, Will McLean, attends the fictional Carolina Military Institute in Charleston. Irish, and not rich, he is an outsider and finds life as a “knob” (first-year cadet in training) at the Institute to be brutal. But he finds solace in three boys who become his great friends: Tradd St. Croix, an “old Charlestonian” (from a very rich and respected family); and Pig and Mark, two brawny, loyal boys of Italian descent. He also respects Colonel “Bear” Barrineau, who asks McLean to look out for ...more
Andrew Walker
Jan 10, 2015 Andrew Walker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book at the recommendation of my younger brother, an active duty Marine.

John, my brother, told me this was by far the best book he has ever read, so I felt I owed it to him to read one of the books that possibly inspired him to enlist.

This is my first review of a book so it will appear scattered, disjointed, and likely ludicrous, but Conroy's The Lords of Discipline is anything but.

Following the young Will McLean and his journey through the Carolina Military Institute (CMI), a fictit
The Lords of Discipline was a very interesting book. Mrs. Jones, my teacher read most of the book to our class out loud. I really liked her reading it out loud because it helped me understand what was going on. She would pause and we would all talk about what exactly was going on. However, it was a long book that took a while to get through. I felt like there was a lot of suspense going on in the book at points. For example, we did not know who was in the ten until later on in the book. This boo ...more
Dec 02, 2016 Noreen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: southern-writers
The culture of the American South is clearly different from the American West. The Southerner is born into a fixed hierarchy. An outsider, even a clearly talented outsider will never become a card carrying insider. "Breeding/family lineage" is the primary definitive attribute of a Southerner. According to Kenneth Arrow , there can only be one first priority without irrational results, then all other attributes, ethnicity, merit, loyalty, discipline, intelligence, ethical standards and morals are ...more
Jul 03, 2007 Lori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007july
There are sections of this book I could recite from memory. Two very different passages -- the walk of shame and the big basketball game -- were regularly done as "prose" pieces in my high school drama class, and as I read them, I could hear my classmates' 15-year-old voices in my head. (Hey Larry and Chris.)

Other than those, though, I'd forgotten a lot of the specifics. And I'm so very glad.

Conroy stunned me all over again, nearly two decades after I'd gotten to know Will McLean the first time.
Aug 27, 2007 Joanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another great book by Conroy. This book is a little different than Beach Music and Prince of Tides, it's about Will, a student at a millitary college. (not too hard to figure out it's supposed to be the Citadel) A black student is accepted to the school for the first time and the whole school is up in arms. The parts about the hazing rituals are described in such brutal detail that I'd get anxious reading them. The part about class and old money was a little goofy to me but I guess it's a real i ...more
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Pat Conroy (1945 - 2016) was the New York Times bestselling author of two memoirs and seven novels, including The Prince of Tides, The Great Santini, and The Lords of Discipline. Born the eldest of seven children in a rigidly disciplined military household, he attended the Citadel, the military college of South Carolina. He briefly became a schoolteacher (which he chronicled in his memoir The Wate ...more
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