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The Choirboys

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4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  4,104 Ratings  ·  126 Reviews
Partners in the Los Angeles Police Department, they’re haunted by terrifying dark secrets of the nightwatch–shared predawn drink and sex sessions they call choir practice. Each wears his cynicism like a bulletproof jockstrap–each has his horror story, his bad dream, his night shriek. He is afraid of his friends–he is afraid of himself.
ebook, 416 pages
Published November 26th 2008 by Delta (first published 1975)
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Checkman
So that was The Choirboys. Interesting. Alright how to review this novel? There have been a few fellow Goodread reviewers who have asked me how the book stacks up to the real thing. Is is it accurate and truthful? Are cops really like that and so on and so forth. After giving it some thought I think the best way to approach this reviw is to break it into sections. So here goes.

ACCURATE & TRUTHFUL (with some reservations)

The book is mostly a series of events leading up to a tragedy. There i
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Szplug
Feb 12, 2011 Szplug rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whereas The New Centurions was a rather grey and grimy introductory work, The Choirboys was a raunchy and grinning buzzbomb of a shock, delivered when I was still young enough to hold that cops were a far different, more upright and austerely dignified breed of human than the noodle-legged, drunken clowns carousing and stumbling about MacArthur Park so perfectly etched by Wambaugh. Here was a group of average schmoes punching the clock, dealing with the annoying and overbearing bureaucratic pr ...more
Ben Winch
This was good. Moving. Funny. It went on too long in places – got lost in its own sexual/scatalogical humour – but it stayed interesting overall and kept me reading, mostly with enjoyment, through 400+ pages, till the end. I didn’t read it for the quality of the prose, but the prose was good – good enough. I read it for the characters, the laughs, the glimpse of something foreign, exotic and mostly pretty much believable. I read it cos I hit a few bumps in the road and felt like lying on the bed ...more
Patrizia O
Jun 25, 2011 Patrizia O rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporanei
I ragazzi del coro mi ha fatto l'occhiolino sin da quando l'ho tirato fuori da una scatola dopo il trasloco. Non sapevo neanche della sua esistenza: era uno dei libri che del mio compagno e, prima di allora, era stato circa tre anni chiuso in garage in attesa del suo momento.
Ogni volta che mi avvicinavo alla libreria, il mio sguardo cadeva su quel libro ed era come se mi chiamasse, ma pensavo a quello che avevo letto sulla quarta di copertine e mi dicevo: “No, non è proprio il mio genere... No
...more
Rob Damon
Nov 08, 2014 Rob Damon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Remember those times when you were a child, on those rare occasions when you were allowed to stay up late and you got to see what TV shows and films your parents watch after you’d gone to bed? If, like me, you are old enough to have been a child when it was unheard of, or very rare, to have a TV in your room, then you might relate to the previous sentence.

Those nights, either because my parents were away and I was being looked after by a not so strict baby sitter, or was up late for some other u
...more
Bernie Weisz
May 21, 2010 Bernie Weisz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mature content
Recommended to Bernie by: a coworker!
Written by Bernie Weisz Historian Pembroke Pines, Florida e mail addresS:BernWei1@aol.com

Title of Review: "The Choirboys: An Authentic 1975 Predawn Nightmare!"

In 1975, a Los Angeles Police Department officer-turned-novelist named Joseph Wambaugh wrote the controversial novel "The Choirboys". Still a hot book, Wambaugh wrote this almost 40 years ago! What was happening in 1975? Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia, the city of Saigon on April 30th was surrendered to the North Vietnamese
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Elliott Hall
May 19, 2011 Elliott Hall rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Choirboys takes place in 1975 and follows the five pairs or partners as they try to deal with LA’s dangerous, insane and grotesque. Most crime novels center on a big case, or at least a single crime family. The Choirboys has a structure more like a ride along with certifiable patrolmen, which lets Wambaugh (himself a 14-year veteran of the LAPD) tell stories that are almost never told. Wambaugh’s experience mean it’s full of little details that I love, like the fact that they park thirty inc ...more
James
Apr 07, 2010 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At the start this book seems to be the usual patter about some odd ball cops. Somewhere around page 15 I realized this book is absolutely brilliant. A bunch of policemen unwind in LAs McArthur park, each party is more debauched and awful then the next as each party serves as a release valve. The writer was a policeman himself and each story shines through with an unparalleled veracity. The experiences flit from so funny it hurt to so jaw droppingly awful you cannot understand how anyone could be ...more
Scott
Dec 06, 2011 Scott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is really something. Very well written with engrossing plotting and memorable characters. It all feels like "MASH" for a while with its dark comedy amongst policemen acting like frat brothers, but the story gradually turns dramatically serious when you find out why the characters seemingly act so wacky and outrageously.
Abra
Dec 27, 2009 Abra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Someday when I'm feeling more eloquent I'll write a proper review of this book. I first read it almost fifteen years ago and I still reread it once every few years.

I've seen other reviews that call it "sociology not literature" and there may be something to that. What the book says about humanity is definitely the driving point. But Wambaugh's voice is uniquely suited to crime drama and I think the book is well paced, compelling, starkly descriptive, and the dialogue is excellent.

It's also hilar
...more
Gail Cooke
Aug 27, 2010 Gail Cooke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


As I write this THE CHOIRBOYS has become an icon, the predecessor of and model for so many police focused books to follow. Have no idea how many remember the way Joseph Wambaugh, a former LAPD detective sergeant, burst upon the literary scene first with The New Centurions, a story that shocked, thrilled, and shortly followed it with THE CHOIRBOYS, another eyebrow raising tale infused with authenticity.

Many of you may have read the book or seen the film based upon the book, but it's an entirely
...more
Richard
Jul 18, 2012 Richard rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller, crime
7/10

A very gritty, and often amusing, look at life as an on-the beat cop in the 70’s in the USA. These aren’t the sort of boys in blue you think of with the generic police procedural book but this isn’t a standard police book.

Some of the characters are hit and miss, whattaya mean Dean was very one dimensional for example, but most are an interesting read. The story basically introduces a number of characters and then spends a set amount of time giving background information on them and then mov
...more
Jeremy Smith
Jan 07, 2013 Jeremy Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the many things that i enjoyed very much about this book was that it showed an inside look into the lives of the men in blue even though it is a work of fiction. Joseph Wambaugh is a former policeman which allows him to articulate the lives of cops quite accurately. I also like the dialogue between the cops and how it adds to the imagery of the story and shows a different side of policemen. I believe that Wambaugh could have revealed more about each character.

In the book, the syntax cons
...more
Garrett
Oct 17, 2015 Garrett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Recommended" by a former police officer I know, this book is the 1975 scathing indictment of the LAPD in gruesome detail that will, with its rocket-propelled narrative style, take the reader from out-loud laughter to gutter-bound contempt and then into deep sadness. The black comedy in these pages kind of only works if you kind of don't give a fuck for most of humanity, which is kind of one of the underlying messages of the book - whether it can be taken seriously or not. The title is a euphemi ...more
Paul
Jan 09, 2010 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my favorite books. I've read it three times since the initial read, and intend to read it again every once in awhile. This book is very well written and runs the gamut of emotions. It's shocking, sad, engrossing, sometimes even a bit touching, and often flat-out hilarious. The first time I read it I was still in high school and would often read late at night. On at least two occasions while reading this book I woke my parents up with loud, uncontrolled laughter. Wambaugh writes at ...more
Erik
Jan 24, 2016 Erik rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first novel Wambaugh wrote after being more or less forced to resign as an LAPD detective due to his newfound fame and probably the best book he's ever written. The New Centurions and The Blue Knight were amazing novels in their own right but The Choirboys tops even those.

No longer employed by the department he had been writing about, the change in tone is a bit jarring. His overt and overwhelming contempt for the LAPD brass is probably the largest difference but his treatment of the police
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Molly
Unbelievably masterful. This book tells the story of a bunch of cops who have "parties" in the park, called "choir practices (hence the book's name).

The cops, all characters fashioned with incredible skill, are at times repellent, hilarious, fascinating, heartbreaking and lovable. Much like Wambaugh's Blue Knight, it isn't until you reach the final pages that you realize you have been swept off your guard, and the story is about people you suddenly realize are not who you were thinking they were
...more
Maureen
I didn't like this book to begin with, it all seemed a bit hard-boiled and the Police-Academy-meets-Porky's japes rankled. But then I saw that the cops' jobs had brutalised them: facing the worst of humanity every single day, sometimes you just got to drink, fight and use the expression 'ball' when referring to casual sex with cocktail waitresses. Gosh darn it, I began to care. I cried - twice, damn you. And I also sniggered at that classic gag: 'Madam, were you cut in the fracas?'. 'No, about s ...more
Feliks
Jun 27, 2012 Feliks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: genre-thrillers
Hilarious and raunchy and great. Not sure how the movie adaptation failed with comedy this grotesque (just look at the casting, too: Louis Gossett, Jr; Charles Durning; James Woods; Randy Quaid, Perry King, Tim McIntire, Don Stroud, Burt Young...) and directed by the legendary Robert Aldrich and it still couldn't work.

Anyway yeah the book definitely rocks; the movie just wasn't allowed to be as dirty as it needed to be.
Max
Jul 07, 2011 Max rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-thriller
I read this because it was my father's favorite book when I was growing up. Maybe there was a time and place where this book would be an acceptable read, but I think that time has passed. It's meant to be a story that depicts that stresses of police work and the too-real dangers that are inherent to those stresses. While that point does come across, it's overshadowed by pretty much every racial stereotype and prejudice. In the end, I did not enjoy reading it the slightest bit.
Travis Kendall
Aug 06, 2011 Travis Kendall rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best police novels ever written. It is stark and brutal while at times quite funny and entertaining. The story of five sets of partners, each man terribly flawed and self-destructive but at the same time very human and endearing, and their quest to cope with the awful and violent world that they work in. You know from the start that it is not going to end well for these guys, but you'll keep reading just the same. An amazing book, would reccomend it to just about anyone.
Peter Stuart
Jan 16, 2010 Peter Stuart rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most inventive police novels I've ever read. Dark, humorous and at times heart breaking. The characters begin as gargoyle like parodies of alcoholic cops but as the novel progresses their individual circumstances and qualities come to the fore. I've found since reading this that I often find myself thinking of the characters and the stories involved. Wambaugh in general is just a genius.
Jim
Jan 02, 2011 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
It's probably very dated now, but when I read this book in the late seventies as a teenager, it was an absolute eye-opener in terms of what fiction could achieve. The book totally took me in to the world of the LAPD, and I read it over and over again. Shocking, cruel, funny, realistic and poignant, I had never read anything like it. Wambaugh, in my opinion, struggled to match this book in his later fiction, although his non-fiction writing remains as good as anyones.
Benjamin
While drawing unavoidable connections to CATCH 22, this work stands on its own. Personal favorite of Wambaugh's works. A dark story of L.A. police in the late 60s later denigrated by an absolutely offensive screen rendering. Puts a human face on the 'army of occupation.'
Peter Shovlin
Jan 27, 2014 Peter Shovlin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably a life changer of a book for me. Hilarious and thrilling at times, heartbreaking at others. A fascinating tour of the post-Nam American male human condition. I like all of Wambaugh's books, he's pretty much my favourite author, but I don't think he ever topped this. A masterpiece.
Paladin
Aug 14, 2013 Paladin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book! Nothing I have ever read made me laugh as much as this book -- despite its serious undertones and subject matter. What an assemblage of characters Wambaugh dreamed up! I read a lot of Wambaugh books after this one, but none ever matched the bar set by The Choirboys.
Philip Alexander
Wambaugh changed crime fiction and the way authors write about the police. He started with The New Centurions, continued with the infamous Bumper Morgan in The Blue Knight, and perfected it here, in The Choirboys.
Frances Heneghan
The best book I've ever read on American police-duties,recreation,sad,funny,all through the eyes & experience of a veteran. Highly recommend!
Katie
Reading this book was an excellent reminder of how far law enforcement has come... and what a long way it still has to go, concerning community relations and clearing up corruption.
Charlie Shaw
Sick humor
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Goodreads Librari...: Page number correction 7 27 Feb 08, 2014 05:39PM  
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Joseph Wambaugh, a former LAPD detective sergeant (1960-1974), is the bestselling author of twenty-one prior works of fiction and nonfiction, including The Choirboys and The Onion Field. Wambaugh joined the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) in 1960. He served 14 years, rising to detective sergeant. He also attended California State University, Los Angeles, where he earned Bachelor of Arts and M ...more
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“You have to experience it, in order to speak about it with authority. Joseph Wambaugh says it with an air of that same authenticity, in his stories of contemporary Police activities, and, with a disarming tongue in cheek, frankness. ” 4 likes
“I mean that a battered child has a marvelous capacity to adjust to his torture and will ceaselessly love his battering parents. I mean that the mother of a sexually molested child will not leave nor truly protect the child from the father as long as the man has a good job or otherwise preserves that mother from an economic life which is more horrifying to her than the molestation of her child. I mean that the weakness of the human race is stupefying and that it’s not the capacity for evil which astounds young policemen like you and me, Dean. Rather it’s the mind boggling worthlessness of human beings. There’s not enough dignity in mankind for evil and that’s the most terrifying thing a policeman learns.” 0 likes
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