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All the Pieces Matter: The Inside Story of The Wire

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  4,361 ratings  ·  493 reviews
The definitive oral history of the iconic and beloved TV show The Wire, as told by the actors, writers, directors, and others involved in its creation.

Since its final episode aired in 2008, HBO's acclaimed crime drama The Wire has only become more popular and influential. The issues it tackled, from the failures of the drug war and criminal justice system to systemic bias
Hardcover, 340 pages
Published February 13th 2018 by Crown Archetype
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May 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It made me miss The Wire.


“Not knowing about the addiction, that’s when I started doing my homework.”

“You start doing your homework. It was awesome. It was exciting to find different ways. I found out just talking to people. I talked to a ton of people. This woman named Fran Boyd was out there in Baltimore and she helped me out a lot. She was a recovered addict. She was the one they based the character on in The Corner, the miniseries. She was dope. We
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: credshelf
"All in the game yo, all in the game."
Omar Little, The Wire, HBO 2002-2008

Bar none, "The Wire" is the finest television series ever: in its realistic portrayal of drug-related crimes from various angles, law enforcement and news media coverage, as well as the greed and apathy in local politics and in its excellent exploration of societal problems surrounding these. This book demonstrates how this 5-year series from HBO was the groundbreaker for the explosion of superb TV drama series in the past
Kasa Cotugno
Dec 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, subj-showbiz-tv
There is a quote by one of the actors from the wire towards the end of this book that goes "The show asked a lot of anyone who watched it. It was not easy viewing. It’s hard to make a casserole and watch the wire in the background...". For those of us who followed The Wire from day one, it raised the bar so high that we have found usual fare, say Law and Order, unwatchable. Therefore, it was a surprise to learn the insiders felt the series didn’t take off until the fourth season which almost did ...more
Dec 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley, 2017
All the Pieces Matter is an amazing oral history of The Wire. Jonathan Abrams interviewed most of the key players (David Simon and Ed Burns, the creators of the show; many of the main writers; the key actors, including Idris Elba, Dominic West, Michael K. Williams, and the list goes on) and does a very nice job of weaving their interviews together.

Although the book doesn't cover all of the episodes, it does move chronologically through the seasons and touches upon some of the key happenings beh
Mar 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Fun and readable comprehensive collection of thoughts about The Wire from most of the major people involved. I enjoyed reading it, though I'm not sure it's super vital or especially insightful as a whole. It does provide some good trivia about the show's production and fills in some details on the backgrounds of cast and crew. But also there's a lot of filler that isn't all that interesting, like repeatedly informing the reader how the show is really, really good (like, I know--I'm reading a who ...more
Oct 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you say you like The Wire, that means you like reading books. That means you give a [bad word] about the human race.
– Andre Royo (“Bubbles”)

A completely enjoyable book by a fan for fans of this hit TV drama. If you haven't seen the series, watch it and love it. If you saw the series and didn't love it, you are dead to me.

The book is formatted mostly as interviews with the cast and crew of the show, with some connecting narrative. I was expecting that there would be some actors, especially th
Mar 22, 2018 rated it liked it
First, I appreciate the author got amazing access to many of the actors on and the people behind the show. There is a lot of material here for him to work with, and it covers a lot of ground within its 300-plus pages.

OK, that's what I liked about it. What I didn't like? That this book needed an editor, a serious editor who could have asked a lot more difficult questions of the author, his focus, the cohesion of the words on the page, and his overarching points. Like, why do you repeat the exact
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
All The Pieces Matter is a good companion recounting of HBO's landmark series The Wire.

Be forewarned: if you have not seen The Wire and plan to, do not read this book because it contains many, many spoilers.

For those that have seen the series, this book offers tidbits about the television show that add background to this masterful show.

Ok, enough of that. If you have not seen The Wire and enjoy exceptional acting and stories, then you need to watch The Wire. Additionally, also seek out about
Maedeh (aka Maya)
Dec 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: film-studies
“The journey through this one case will ultimately bring viewers from wondering, in cop-show expectation, whether the bad guys will get caught, to wondering instead who the bad guys are and whether catching them means anything at all,”
- David Simon wrote in a memo to the president of HBO’s entertainment division, in June 2001.

The rating is not for The Wire series, not to be dramatic but I'd give my life for The Wire series :)))

So this book is basically a collection of interviews with the show's
J.M. Hushour
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Sheeeeeeeeeit." - Senator Clay Davis.

Did you know that should be spelled with nine Es? I learned that and a lot of other interesting things from this outstanding book.
But first, let's make one thing clear: know that you are an utter, shameful jackass if you have never watched The Wire. You're doubly a fiend if you don't concede that it is one of the greatest if not the greatest thing ever made for a screen.
If you fit into neither of the above categories of unfettered stupidity, you will love th
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
So, I have finished All the Pieces Matter by Jonathan Abram, due out in February. Really, really liked it. (The book is due out in February but in full disclosure I received this eARC from NetGalley for a fair and honest review. Thanks, NetGalley!)

One note for any prospective reader. This is not an introduction to The Wire. Do not read this book unless you have seen the show, preferably to a diagnosable number of repetitions. If you truly love The Wire, you will wallow in the rich detail that Ab
Debbie Notkin
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
[I would swear I posted a review of this book a week or two ago, but it didn't take, so here's my second try.]

Hardcore fans of The Wire, like me, will appreciate the range and depth of this book (another loan from Kerry). Jonathan Abrams interviewed every principal on the TV show that he could reach--David Simon, Ed Burns, other writers, producers, photographers, and many, many actors. He then stitched the interviews together into a narrative, with short explanatory introductions setting the sce
Oct 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
[Audiobook] This book was a nice part II to watching The Wire earlier during the pandemic, with Yogarshi . We listened to the book on multiple drives between DC and NYC, and then some. It felt like an experience itself, since the audiobook actually uses different voices/ voice actors for the different characters in the book, and for those behind the scenes (Writers, directors, casting, etc). I highly recommend the (audio)book for anyone who has watched the show, and the show for anyone who hasn ...more
Kelsey McKinney
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When I watched The Wire, I thought “this is a good show”. When I watched the series finale, I thought “this is a great show”. Reading this book, I thought “this is one of the greatest television shows ever”. I loved this book. As a companion piece, it elevated and enhanced the viewing experience. The interviews with the cast and crew shine a light on how the creative choices made both in front of the camera and behind the scenes all supported a larger goal to not only create a damn good televisi ...more
Mar 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great review of the show with all the main players chiming in. Makes me want to re-watch the show.
Apr 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
A talking-head tome recommended for fans and those familiar with the once-ignored but now-praised 2002-2008 HBO ensemble crime-drama series set in urban Baltimore. Author Abrams did a commendable job of getting quotes / stories / anecdotes from, it seems, nearly EVERY performer and senior production member. (Also, any show that had established mystery writers George Pelecanos, Dennis Lehane, and Richard Price churning out the scripts is certainly okay by me.) It's not an episode or character gui ...more
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
Fine. Enjoyable as a walk back through the show but nothing essential -- lots spent on challenges with the execs, and clearly had more access to the behind the camera staff than the actors (who add a lot with what they have). As with 90% of oral histories, might've been better as prose. ...more
Mar 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Really more like a 3.5 or 3.75. Reading this was a nice way to enjoy The Wire again without watching all the episodes. This book feels more important than it is good, if that makes any sense.
Matt Lieberman
Sep 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Wire has aged remarkably well. Almost 10 years after airing its final episode, the show's themes and subject matter are just as relevant as ever, if not more so. It has also played a huge role in ushering in the era of "peak television" and slow-burning narrative dramas like Breaking Bad and House of Cards. While there are plenty of encyclopedic volumes analyzing episodes and story arcs and critically assessing the show through various academic lenses, there are no comprehensive accounts chr ...more
this is a good companion to the HBO series... i would suggest not reading this before watching the show. there are a lot of big spoilers in abrams' book.

the bulk of this book is commentary from the actors who starred on the show, along with the writers, directors, and producers. it was pretty cool to read their thoughts and feelings about the show, and how precarious production was each season. the wire really took on a life after the series ended, with more viewers discovering it post-productio
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star
Not long enough. I wish that the author had spent time on stories behind the squad (Lester Freamon, Lt. Daniels).

To quote Andre Royo (Bubbles):

[The audience] appreciated being treated like they're intelligent...the Wire became that show where there was a hierarchy. If you like the Wire it means you like reading books.
Sean Tenaglia
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“All the sudden, The Wire became the show where there was a hierarchy. If you say you like The Wire, that means you like reading books. That means you give a f about the human race. It made you feel like you bettered yourself in the crowd.”- Andre Royo (Bubbles)

Incredible stories from the people who created the most important TV show we’ve seen.
Hunter Satterfield
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am in the camp that believes The Wire to be the best television show in history.

For those in that camp this is book is a no brainer and should be your very next read.

For those that loved The Wire this is a must read that should be near the top of your list.

For those that haven't watched The Wire, um why? Go watch the show now and then read this book.
May 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing

David Simon, a Baltimore Sun reporter, followed a drug-trafficking case in the winter of 1984. Two detectives, Ed Burns and Harry Edgerton, used wiretaps to set up an elusive drug dealer and his associates.

The case involved a trafficker named Melvin Williams. He imported a bulk of heroin into Baltimore over the years as economic opportunities dwindled. While forming an intricate communication system of beepers to work his drug trade, on the surface, he owned a few legitimate businesses and was
Riley Haas
Apr 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Note: This is an oral history of how The Wire got made. You should only read this if you have seen The Wire in its entirety. The spoilers in this review concern the show, not the book.
I loved Abrams' oral histories for Grantland but it might have been partially due to the fact that they were some of the first oral histories I had ever read. I feel like Abrams' strength with those was getting the story of a very specific event (or a series of events) from the mouths of those involved and presenti
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book does an awesome job of truly highlighting 1) the importance of The Wire, 2) the brilliance of The Wire, 3) the resilience of the writers and specifically the creator and 4) the dedication of the actors, but also the real life issues actors deal with as it relates to working in the industry.

I really don’t want to watch any entire tv series anymore. Like I don’t want to start a show from the beginning that’s not actually just starting. I don’t want to go back and watch a show that’s alre
Karl Ocampo
May 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Peter Knox
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, non-fiction
You already know if you’ll enjoy this book; did you love watching The Wire?

Then you’ll love reading this brisk expertly produced oral history of everyone involved.

It’s like hanging out with all the characters again (like Lester Freemon bought a house with no TV and had actors living with him over the years they filmed). You understand how everyone’s contracts were up after each season didn’t get renewed, Simon had to go to bat for another, and everyone had to come back.

The Wire was a family an
Chris Witkowski
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am a Wire junkie, believing the show to be the very best thing I have ever seen on TV, so when I read about a book that told the complete story of the HBO acclaimed series, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. The author interviews every person involved with the show, the writers, producers, directors, actors, cinematographers, you name it, each and every one has something fascinating to say about their role in the show.

We learn of David Simon's and Ed Burns' intent when writing the show, t
Ben Beard
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: film-history
The Wire isn't just the greatest show of all time, it is one of the greatest feats of storytelling, period. No other story has explored an entire broken societal system from so many vantage points with such human, interesting characters. Many people have said it is more like a book than a TV show, and if that were true I think it would be on the shortlist to be considered the quintessential Great American Novel. So uh, yeah, you can say I am a fan.

I am not a fan, however, of oral histories. Thi
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JONATHAN ABRAMS is an award-winning journalist who has covered the NBA for ESPN’s Grantland, The New York Times and Los Angeles Times. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California.

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34 likes · 6 comments
“Richard Price: One of my favorite things that David (Simon) did - one of the sentimental tropes - is that if you take a kid on the street corner, and this kid is dealing and he's holding together the business, he's got the inventory, he's got sales, he's got police pressure, he's got higher-ups pressure. If this kid can keep numbers in his head and make money, they say, "Well, if this was a white kid and you put him in Wharton and he came out, he'd be running the world." What David did, and it's very sentimental to say that, but what David did, he took Stringer Bell - and of course you'd see Stringer Bell in a corporate setting - he took him to the cleaners, everything but his underwear robbed. I loved that, because everybody wants to feel good and say, "If you took this young kid," but no. It might be true if the kid was born in another body, in another world, but he wasn't. There's a ceiling. There's a very low ceiling. (207)” 1 likes
“Opportunity is what these kids lack," Burns said. "The path is the corner or the stoop. We're talking about these kids here on the corner. They don't have advocates ... Corner kids, there's nobody rooting for them. You have to change that world, and where you have to start is ages zero to three. That's the most formative years of your life, and you're not even in charge of it. You got to go back and you got to create institutions that give that child the dignity, the self-respect, the love that he or she needs to go out into the world. (221-222)” 1 likes
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