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The Lords of Discipline

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  25,481 ratings  ·  1,438 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
Mass Market 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 Carolin…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)

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Always Pouting
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
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

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I understood for the first time why the punishment for Lot's wife was so severe. There were times when it was unforgivable to look back (88%)

This is a dark and edgy book that explores the same themes of innate violence and tribal belonging as LORD OF THE FLIES. Set in a Southern military college, THE LORDS OF DISCIPLINE is about a young Irish Catholic boy named William McLean. Since he's the most liberal and cynical boy in the academy,
J.K. Grice
Wow. An incredibly 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. ...more
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
Brett C
Feb 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: south-carolina
This book is set at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, which was fictionalized as the Carolina Military Institute. The story starts when our main protagonist, Will McLean, reports to school after summer furlough for his senior year. The flashback narrative gives insight to the hazing and Fourth Class System endured during Knob Year. The story intertwines the bond with his classmates, a love affair, basketball, and his dealings with The Ten. I felt Pat Conroy was a master of the English l ...more
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One for my six-star shelf, another Conroy gem.

Brian Eshleman
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I should have been a tough audience for this one this time. I read it eight years ago, and I don't typically reread. What's more, I'm even more dismissive of most fiction than I was then. This one was a five-star, jaw-dropping experience then in a way that is not typically repeatable, especially with more jaded places in my heart than I had then.

Is the irrepressible exception, the affirmation of life as a man, maybe especially a southern man, with all of its pain in all its beauty. Whatever book
Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorite read of the year! Pat Conroy wrote beautifully. I’ve read a few of his books and have loved them all so far. This one is probably my favorite, or at least a close tie with Beach Music.

This is the story of a cadet at the Carolina Military Institute in Charleston during the turbulent 1960s. It’s based on Conroy’s own experiences at The Citadel.

I read that when Conroy first published this book, his alma mater shunned him for thirty years. While reading this, I couldn’t help but wonder
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
Dec 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow what a long and deep based book on character study. This was the first book by this author that I have read. I saw parts of the movie along time ago lol. I thought it was a very good book. I am glad I read it. The story moved at a good pace except every once in a while he did get a little flowery with his writing but it was not often or that bad. This whole book for the most part is character driven which is a talent . I Liked the main character and almost all of the secondary characters. Th ...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
Oct 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction-american

The Lords of Discipline was extraordinarily accurate and well written. I was a Citadel cadet at the time in which Conroy set his novel. I never knew Conroy. He was one year behind me. By the time he arrived, I had stupidly begun another plebe year at West Point. So, I had two plebe years in a row. That made me in several ways as tough as nails and in other ways it evacuated my soul--for a while.

At West Point I made even better friends than I had made at The Citadel. That was the joy of both pla
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
Barnabas Piper
Feb 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This was the first of Conroy’s novels I ever read. Since that time I have read all of them (there aren’t many, about a half dozen). Lords of Discipline is as forceful a novel as I have read. To describe the plot would not do it justice, but here is the gist. Will Maclean is a cadet at Carolina Military institute (a fictional school in Charleston, SC based largely on The Citadel where Conroy attended). He is asked to look out for the first black incoming freshman in school history and see him thr ...more
I already reviewed this book , but for some reason the review appeared under the book 'The Water is Wide' , a book I have never read , even started ? Here is that review of The Lords of Discipline , Book recommended to me by Charlie Donlea .

To not give this book 5-stars and add it to my 'favorites' list would be denying my 60 year quest of finding and reading great literature . The author's range of vocabulary had me checking on word definitions in every chapter . His descriptive powers of brin
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
Tom Mathews
This is the book that started my love affair with Pat Conroy's writing. I read it when I was young and idealistic. The story is much different from what I remember with one exception. It is still one of my all-time favorite novels.

My thanks to Lawyer and all the folks at the On the Southern Literary Trail group for giving me the opportunity to read and discuss this and many other fine books.
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
Jan 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The Lords of Discipline" is one of the best novels dealing with male love and friendship that I have ever read. Mr. Conroy has created as realistic a portrait of young adult companionship and comradely as I have found, to date, in literature. This long novel has many themes and characters, but the text is really about its narrator, Will McLean, and his years at a military college, known as "the Institute."
The strengths of the book are many, but here are a few that come quickly to mind. The voic
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
Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)
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
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
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
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
Jan 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
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.
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
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
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.
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On the Southern L...: * Final Impressions: The Lords of Discipline, by Pat Conroy - November 2019 26 32 Dec 05, 2019 04:02PM  
The Lords of Discipline 2 32 Feb 29, 2016 06:42AM  
The Lords of Discipline 4 32 Oct 19, 2013 12:45PM  
The Lords of Discipline 1 13 Sep 05, 2013 10:10AM  
The Prince of Pro...: Just came back from Charleston 4 42 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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