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The Lords of Discipline

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  22,526 Ratings  ·  1,225 Reviews
A novel you will never forget...

This powerful and breathtaking novel is the story of four cadets who have become bloodbrothers. Together they will encounter the hell of hazing and the rabid, raunchy and dangerously secretive atmosphere of an arrogant and proud military institute. They will experience the violence. The passion. The rage. The friendship. The loyalty. The be
Paperback, 512 pages
Published February 24th 1997 by Bantam (first published 1980)
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Larry Attending a military school might help to understand the book better. Certainly an understanding of the Citadel, the Military College of South…moreAttending a military school might help to understand the book better. Certainly an understanding of the Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, which is the thinly veiled model for the novel's "Institute", adds to understanding the novel. Many of the hazing practices like a "sweat party" may seem barbaric, but, I believe are accurate if not entirely complete. If anything, Conroy doesn't go into as much detail as another book specifically about El Cid goes into..."F-Troop" is a book about 2nd Battalion, Company is essentially a book of short stories about the Citadel, and more fully describes sweat parties...

(Btw...Company F is still referred to as F Troop...4th Battalion, which includes Will McLean's R Company, is referred to as the "Zoo")

Fortunately, the current administration, and most importantly the Commandant, have take great measures to eliminate (or at least significantly reduce) hazing at El Cid. Many decry the elimination of these while I understand their passion for the "Old Corps", I see the extraordinary measures as unnecessary for the making of the "Whole Man"...there are many elements at work that still cause tremendous culling of cadets...few who do not truly want to be there will remain.

For those who wonder...Hell Night still occurs as part of the Knob's (freshmen) first week on campus. Many do leave within the first week.

Few other military schools have the intensity or duration of El Cid's 4th Class system...(actually, none that I know of in the US).

There is much in the novel that is very recognizable still in the practices at El Cid fact, frighteningly so. And the descriptions of Charleston and it's charms are spot on. For one with a new and growing love of both El Cid and Charleston, this has been a disturbing read. I will proceed cautiously in my relationship with both.(less)
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...


Community Reviews

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Pouting Always
Feb 09, 2017 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 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was amazing
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
J.K. Grice
Wow. A really in depth novel about life for young men in a military school. Hilarious, tragic, and sobering, THE LORDS OF DISCIPLINE is one of the best books I've ever read.
Bob Mayer
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As with all Conroy books there are many plot lines in the story. So many, that when they made the movie, they left out the main one! Nevertheless, a writer like Conroy can handle that many stories with his superb prose.
As a graduate of West Point we always wondered why people went to the Citadel to be abused. I still wonder although it is an ingrained part of society in that part of the country.
Conroy was never afraid to take on difficult topics and his frank look at the racism might even be und
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow this is a rough Read. Interesting what was expected or accepted during the Vietnam War. There was no room for the week. These young men were put through rigorous and demeaning torture that was definitely the actions of ruthless young men that had a history of violence or abuse in their younger lives. The power hungry, older officers should have been charged with Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and a Gentleman. On the flip side there was a group of friends that were very loyal to each other...o ...more
Jul 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Steffany Cartellone
Jan 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-top-10-or-20
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
Nov 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo
Pat Conroy has done it again! He drew me into The Lords of Discipline both visually and emotionally. I thought I was right there with Will McLean.

"I wear the ring.

I wear the ring and I return often to the city of Charleston, South Carolina, to study the history of my becoming a man. My approach to Charleston is always silent and distracted, but I come under full sail, with hissing silk and memories a wing above me in the shapes of the birds...

But to me, Charleston is a dark city, a melancholy
Oct 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I got so much more from this book than I expected. I had expected to hear a story of hazing and tough military discipline. And I knew that the main character was loosely based on Conroy and his years at The Citadel because I had read about his tenuous relationship with his alma mater for years and read about the reconciliation and his returning to the college to deliver what I think was a commencement address.

I did not, however, expect to read a story of a whole and complete person, one who com
Caley Rogers
Feb 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
All the stars! I read this for a challenge I'm doing. This fulfills the category of reading a book published the year you turned 18/graduated high school. What a fantastic find!

The Lords of Discipline tells the powerful story of Will McLean, a senior who attends the prestigious South Carolina military school, also known as the Institute. Will elaborates on the traditions at the Institute and the harsh reality of his freshman, or “plebe” year. Will quickly learns that to get through the years, he
Dec 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
May 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
James Aura
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Powerful and wonderfully told through the memories of a young man who experienced the hazing culture of a southern military college. Conroy said the school was a composite of several schools, but it strikingly resembles the Citadel in Charleston, SC where the story takes place. Great characters, memorable action, and Charleston is so well described the old city serves as an additional character in the plot. Powerful suspense and a satisfying ending. Conroy was a master.
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018

I figured I should read the most notorious Citadel novel now that I work there. It's a little melodramatic in a couple of places and depicts a couple things that are hard to read but on the whole is a great work. I see both how he still loved the place despite its brutality at the time he went through it and why he felt compelled to expose that brutality. It's easy to see why The Citadel excommunicated him for a time. His descriptions of Charleston made me want to get to know my new city. The

THE LORDS OF DISCIPLINE by Pat Conroy and performed by Dan John Miller includes a New Introduction read by the author, Pat Conroy. Mr. Conroy explains that this book was banned for years in schools and institutions in the USA.
Pat Conroy has me sympathizing with the freshmen as they are bullied and hazed all year long. Many of the boys cannot endure the torture and leave the institution; one takes his own life.
The badgering and vile language is very difficult to hear and I often needed to stop
Feb 10, 2017 rated it did not like it
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
May 05, 2014 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 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
An excellent read. Pat Conroy is an amazing writer and story teller. This is a fictional account of a cadet at Carolina Military Institute in the late 60's....based on the author's own experiences at The Citadel during the same time. While difficult to read and even more difficult to digest at times, this should not be missed. Riveting!!!
Apr 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
I’ve had this book since 2012 in my to read pile. So happy I found time to finally focus on it. Not disappointed it’s a well crafted piece of manuscript. I didn’t realize Pat Conroy had passed away in 2016. I have a couple more of his novels I’ll have to read sooner than later. Now that I know how talented he was.
Patricia Kurz
Jul 02, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Ella Burakowski
Sep 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pat Conroy is to words as Beethoven is to music. In Lords of Discipline, Conroy spins a tale filled with torture, degradation, lies and deception all in the venue of a US military academy whose purpose is to create men of honor. The time is 1966 in Charleston, North Carolina. The story revolves around 4 boys at the "Institute" - roommates. They have created their own cacoon and deep friendships in spite of all that is going on around them. The protagonist, Will Mclean, has suspicions of a clande ...more
Jun 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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The Lords of Discipline 2 25 Feb 29, 2016 06:42AM  
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The Prince of Pro...: Just came back from Charleston 4 38 Mar 15, 2013 04:53PM  
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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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“Happiness is an accident of nature, a beautiful and flawless aberration.” 1436 likes
“I wanted to become the seeker, the aroused and passionate explorer, and it was better to go at it knowing nothing at all, always choosing the unmarked bottle, always choosing your own unproven method, armed with nothing but faith and a belief in astonishment.” 104 likes
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