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The Wire: Truth Be Told

3.79  ·  Rating Details  ·  790 Ratings  ·  83 Reviews

Welcome to the critically acclaimed HBO drama series The Wire, hailed as "the best show on television, period" by the San Francisco Chronicle. The New York Times calls it "a vital part of the television landscape...unvarnished realism." Time declares that The Wire, "like its underfunded, workaday cops, just plugged away until it outshone everything else on TV."

The Wire

Paperback, 581 pages
Published 2009 by Canongate Books (first published September 14th 2004)
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so, the bedbugs pooped all over my nice hardcover edition of this because

1) bedbugs have zero taste
2) bedbugs are assholes
3) bedbugs are living creatures, and living creatures poop because - science.
4) and i'm just inferring here, but i'm pretty sure bedbugs are racist.

this is not a quiz - all of the above responses are correct. fuck you, bedbugs. fuck you the most.

also - insect poop is called "frass."
consider yourself enlightened.
Paul Bryant

Would you like to read an introduction to Hamlet written by Shakespeare himself? Not if it went something like “I knew when I began Hamlet that I wished to blow the conventions of the revenge tragedy sky-high, and by God that’s what I did. Hamlet’s soliloquies are, I feel, the finest in all my 36 plays and I feel that with the character of Ophelia…I must thank HBO for allowing me the space to demonstrate the full extent of my genius…” And blah
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This book is the shee-it!

And if you know extactly where that comes from, I hope you are reading this review after you have read the book.

I read an earlier edition of this, and really can't add much to the original review which is .

If you have already read that review, well shee-it, haven't you seen the series yet?

This edition includes some expanded sections from the as well as covering all the seasons - most importantly season 4, which was the best.

Liked the obit for Stringer.
Michael Monforte
Really thought this book would give a lot more in-depth behind the scenes of the real life stories behind the show. While at times it offered that it mostly was episode recaps which I found pointless. If you bought a book about the show don't you think you would've known what was in the recaps? The recaps themselves were sort of broad anyway but I can't tell if that's a good thing or not.

The best part of the book is the essay by creator David Simon that opens the book. While other parts were in
Derek Baldwin
Not bad but you can't escape a feeling of exploitativeness, and the fact that 25% of the book is index and other tables, cast and crew lists etc, hardly helps. A lot of the writing is pretty lazy. It's acceptable - in context - for The Wire to be full of swear words but not acceptable for this book to be e.g. an episode summary which refers to someone having "fucked up". Just bad writing Mr Alvarez. The interviews and trivia are entertaining enough and there's some good illustrations/photos but ...more
John Arfwedson
Jul 26, 2010 John Arfwedson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is all about "The Wire", 60 hours of TV spread over 5 years that is, as many before me have said: "The best story ever put on film." It is about inner-city Baltimore the same way "Moby Dick" is about whaling. It looks at drugs, police, docks, politics, schools, journalism, and race in America top to bottom and side to side, with an authenticity, integrity, detail, depth, and bloody honesty usually only associated with the greatest literature. It's as if Charles Dickens, Eldridge Cleave ...more
Mar 09, 2008 Bryan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: television
The Wire is over. Long live The Wire.
Dec 08, 2007 Drew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ANYONE!
This book is an insightful look behind the scenes of HBO's spectacular drama, The Wire. Mr. Alvarez combines terrific interviews with different people around Baltimore, Maryland who have inspired many of the program's distinct characters with articles about various aspects of the show's production and its loyal fan base, compellingly detailed essays about the show's first three seasons and comprehensive episode recaps of seasons one and two. Essays are contributed by reputed authors George Pelec ...more
Nov 02, 2007 Kevin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Wire Fans
I'm a ravenous fan of the HBO series, The Wire, and there's no reason why people should continue to not watch this show. Three seasons are on DVD already, and now this companion book. I picked this one up in a bargain bin. There because its such a niche book that I'm sure it probably only sold well in Baltimore itself. But if you like the show, it's fascinating to learn about all the real life Omars and Prop Joes and superhero lesbian homicide detectives, etc. But, anyway, just watch the show, a ...more
Shu Lindsey
"We are bored with good and evil. We renounce the theme.

With the exceptions of saints and sociopaths, few in this world are anything but a confused and corrupted combination of personal motivations, most of them selfish, some of them hilarious. Character is the essence of all good drama; and plotting is just as fundamental. But ultimately, the storytelling that speaks to our current condition, that grapples with the basic realities and contradictions of our immediate world -- these are stories t
Niklas Pivic
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Graham Tapper
Aug 06, 2011 Graham Tapper rated it it was amazing
A great read for anyone who was into The Wire as much as I was. Written around a synopsis of the complete five series, it contains a wealth of additional background about the writers, producers, directors but, most especially about the actors and the characters that they play.

Some, like Felicia Pearson (Snoop), came from the very streets where their characters live their lives. Her life story could have been told in The Wire and would not have looked out of place. In doing so her life was turned
Strengths of the book? Interviews with writers, actors, etc., that one might not be able to find anywhere else. Valuable? Absolutely.
However, the book was weak in some key points. I found the organization frustrating. First, episodes are generally listed by their place in the overall series (ex. Episode 32, 51, etc) as opposed to their location in the season. The only way to know the season beyond recognition is to look at the header. Secondly, interviews and other secondary analyses are inters
Aug 29, 2013 AticoLibros rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: principal
«He gozado con los episodios de las cinco temporadas como leyendo una de esas grandes novelas decimonónicas –las de Dickens o de Dumas– que aparecían por capítulos en los diarios a lo largo de muchas semanas.»

«Hay que guardarla con mimo, como las obras completas de Shakespeare y de Stevenson, las mejores películas (casi todas son buenas) de Ford y de Wilder, las canciones de Sinatra, los discos de Coltrane, los recuerdos maravillosos, esas cosas que con un poco de suerte te van
Brian Wadman
Apr 01, 2014 Brian Wadman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An episode to episode guide of the TV series along with inside info about what makes the show great. Producer, David Simon, is a bit self-congratulatory in his introduction letter (which he had sent to HBO) explaining the significance of the show. But in truth, this was the greatest television/drama of my lifetime. There is no better book, movie, documentary (maybe Hoop Dreams) play or TV show which explains urban life better. Here, Simon is describing the streets of Baltimore, but it could well ...more
Jamie Vollrath
Well, this book has absolutely nothing on the show. It's the kind of book that you can skip around in. The best chapter thus far is the first: David Simon's letter to HBO, in which he lays out his reasons for why the reluctant rogue network should take up the show. Very passionate! A lot of the writing, though, of consciousness, for lack of a better description. The writing is all over the place and is not organized well.
Mar 15, 2011 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Wire fans
Recommended to Lisa by: Ruth
"Arguably the greatest television show ever made" - Daily Telegraph.

Fun fact: The worst argument that my boyfriend and I have ever had revolved around just that statement. Having not seen The Wire he argued that Six Feet Under deserved this title. He's wrong.

Comprising of season overviews, full episode guides, articles on major characters and themes, with further background on the political and social reality that informed and influenced the series, this book has been put together by those who w
Sep 19, 2013 Rob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, usa, 2013
I enjoyed reading this a lot, and reliving the series, but with a few reservations - 1) You need to have seen The Wire. All of it. 2) It's a bit piecemeal and there are lots of typos (Prop Joe becomes Pop Joe at times, Carcetti becomes Carecetti etc.) 3) It's a little self-congratulatory. There come moments when you feel the need to hear that David Simon (or whoever) actually gets GROUCHY...

But in return you get to relive the story episode by episode, you get some insight into the basis of the c
Andrew Thompson
Jan 11, 2010 Andrew Thompson rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of The Wire
For fans of The Wire. A good companion to the series which offers some useful insights and background. I would however say that the episode guide is not a patch on the corresponding wikipedia entries. It has however prompted me to start watching the entire series yet again on DVD. This edition of the book covers all 5 seasons. From an aesthetic point of view, it would have been better if there were more colour plates as the numerous half-tones used in the text tend to give the book a slightly ch ...more
Mar 31, 2015 Andersreads rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got this for my birthday, and began to read it immediately. For a fan of the Wire, this is a great book filled with tons of information about the show, its actors, themes, and thoughtful commentary. For those who haven't watched what is arguably the best series ever shown on television, this books gives away too much about the plot.
Nov 17, 2015 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this without checking the edition, my copy ends with the start of season 3.

Unfortunate. He had a ton of great information and insight, more than I ever got from any anthology or article. Lots of background into actor choices and the climate surrounding the show as it aired. Also background on some of the character inspiration and episode overviews. Will have to find a copy with later seasons included.
Doug Stotland
Mar 22, 2015 Doug Stotland rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tv, the-wire
Not a good book but the best of the 3 I've read on "The Wire". The essays by David Simon provide fascinating insight on the personality and mentality that created such a great series. Most of the content is pretty lame but I still enjoyed reading blow-by-blow, episode-by-episode accounts of all five seasons. There's also some good background and trivia sprinkled throughout the book.

I've read three books on "The Wire" so far. All were mediocre to bad books but I enjoyed all of them. Someday someo
Jabiz Raisdana
Jan 02, 2015 Jabiz Raisdana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, crime, tv, police
Love the show. Loved the book. Great insights on one of the best television shows in the history of television. So dark and smart and perfect. This show proves that television can be literature.
Apr 12, 2008 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like The Wire
Used this book a lot in my thesis. I can't say I'd necessarily recommend it unless you, too, are writing about The Wire, since (if you're into the show) you could pretty much learn everything in here on the internet - with the exception, maybe, of the interview with Melvin Williams. Also, there's some interesting info about The Wire's production and Baltimore that you could get hints of on the internet, but not with the same depth. There are also episode guides, but Wikipedia has episode guides ...more
Melisa Resch
Oct 01, 2009 Melisa Resch rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Loved this book. I want to read everything there is on the behind-the-scenes wire stuff. LOVED the casting stories and the shooting information. I wanted more, goddammit. more interviews with cast and crew, more info on baltimore shennanigans, more production stories. MORE OMAR. would of liked more interviews with the rotating directors they had and more from the writers room. the ending sucked, it was all about a producer who died during filming, which is a tragic loss but not the bes
Jan 12, 2015 Dan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An exhaustive look at The Wire, with some great interviews with David Simon and others about the entire show.
Dankwa Brooks
Apr 06, 2013 Dankwa Brooks rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really didn't read this book so much as I skipped through it. Lots of prose from series creator David Simon that doesn't give background on the show inasmuch it gives background on politics etc.

The episode recaps were a little skimpy as well, but with a show as plot rich as 'The Wire' how could you fit it all.

The best parts of the book, and about the only thing I read were the profiles on specific actors and their characters like "Proposition Joe" played insidiously by the late Robert Chew.
Definitely for Wire completists/obsessives only. But worthwhile to learn how The Best TV Show Ever got started, as well as a few choice peeks behind the scenes.
Jun 24, 2011 Sonia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Even if you didn't watch the series (although if you did miss it you missed the best series ever on HBO)this is a great read. So much background info on the actors and the show. Sure Baltimore was not shown in the best light but the Wire doesn't just use urban suffering as entertainment and then let you off the hook to go on with your life while the body count continues to go up in the real projects. In the Wire these deaths go on and are so commonplace. But the show goes beyond this, that these ...more
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“The Audacity of Despair
"You can stand your ground if you're white, and you can use a gun to do it. But if you stand your ground with your fists and you're black, you're dead.

"In the state of Florida, the season on African-Americans now runs year round. Come one, come all. And bring a handgun. The legislators are fine with this blood on their hands. The governor, too. One man accosted another and when it became a fist fight, one man — and one man only — had a firearm. The rest is racial rationalization and dishonorable commentary.

"If I were a person of color in Florida, I would pick up a brick and start walking toward that courthouse in Sanford. Those that do not, those that hold the pain and betrayal inside and somehow manage to resist violence — these citizens are testament to a stoic tolerance that is more than the rest of us deserve. I confess, their patience and patriotism is well beyond my own.

"Behold, the lewd, pornographic embrace of two great American pathologies: Race and guns, both of which have conspired not only to take the life of a teenager, but to make that killing entirely permissible. I can't look an African-American parent in the eye for thinking about what they must tell their sons about what can happen to them on the streets of their country. Tonight, anyone who truly understands what justice is and what it requires of a society is ashamed to call himself an American.”
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