Book Reviews of The Choirboys

The Choirboys
The Choirboys
Author: Joseph Wambaugh
ISBN-13: 9780385341608
ISBN-10: 0385341601
Publication Date: 8/28/2007
Pages: 416
Edition: Reprint
Rating:
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 8

3.6 stars, based on 8 ratings
Publisher: Delta
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

8 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed The Choirboys on + 472 more book reviews
"The Choirboys" shows what big city policeman endure daily, from the brutal crimes on the streets, to their ongoing battles with their supervisors and how they cope with it all. Wambaugh's characters come to life, and you will love some of them and hate others.
reviewed The Choirboys on + 3 more book reviews
In my opinion, this is Wambaugh's best book. Others are enjoyable but not near as humorous.
reviewed The Choirboys on + 119 more book reviews
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 and all remaining Americans were evacuated, thus ending America's role in the Vietnam War. The U.S. "Apollo" and the Soviet "Soyuz" spacecrafts took off for their historic July 15th link up in space. Gerald Ford experienced two unsuccessful assassination attempts on his life, one by ex Charles Manson gang member Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme. Muhammed Ali defeated Joe Frazier in the "Thriller in Manilla", The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Minnesota Vikings in New Orleans to win the Super Bowl, and the Cincinnati Reds defeated the Boston Red Sox in 7 games to capture baseball's "fall classic", and Joseph Wambaugh penned "The Choirboys"

The Choirboys was a tragicomedy that parodied the effects of urban police work on young officers, which Wambaugh exaggerated through the exploits of his characters, a group of Los Angeles police officers in the Wilshire Division of the L.A.P.D. Wambaugh used a group of ten patrol officers as his main characters that held end-of-shift "get together's" which Wambaugh euphemistically coined "choir practice". It was sarcastically called "choir practice" to disguise the true nature of these meetings from their superior officers, which involved heavy drinking, complaints about their superior officers, war stories, and group sex with a pair of raunchy, overweight "police groupie" barmaids.

Wambaugh had these "choir practices" held in MacArthur Park, overviewing downtown Los Angeles. Although a novel, MacArthur Park (named after General Douglas MacArthur) is a real park located at 2230 West 6th St., in the Westlake neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. Aside from Wambaugh's novel, MacArthur Park was featured as the setting in two movies, e.g. "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang", and "Training Day". Sardonically disillusioned, at these "choir practices", each of Wambaugh's officers expresses differently that many of the fellow officers they work with are not unlike the suspects they arrest, and the absurd regulations of the L.A.P.D. are oppressively enforced on them while their commanders (who usually acquire their positions through nepotism, favoritism and are without basic police work skills) indulge themselves hypocritically.

I do not want to be a "plot spoiler", but I will mention that the theme of police officer suicide provides all the way to the end of this novel a grim undercurrent to the black humor and is suggestive of a subconscious motivation for all "The Choirboy's" activities. The author, Joseph A. Wambaugh, born January 22, 1937, was originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was the son of a police officer, and joined the U.S. Marines at age 17. He works this into "The Choirboys" early, as he starts off with "The Secret of The Cave", which is a description of two future police officers experiences while they were trapped in a cave near Khe Sanh, South Vietnam in 1967. This little vignette at the beginning of "The Choirboys" has later disastrous consequences at the conclusion of this book, as the reader will find out. One of Wambaugh's characters, officer Sam Niles, due to the aforementioned Vietnam experience, developed severe claustrophobia, which later became a key factor in what Wambaugh called the "MacArthur Park shooting".

Wambaugh married at 18, received a B.A. and M.A. degree from California State University in Los Angeles, and then joined the L.A.P.D in 1960. Rising from the rank of patrolman to detective sergeant, he served until 1974. Because he was amongst their ranks, Wambaugh had a unique perspective on police work which greatly assisted him in his first novel, "The New Centurions", published in 1971 to critical acclaim and popular success. Wambaugh actually remarked while working, "I would have guys in handcuffs asking me for autographs". Both "The New Centurions" and his second book, "The Blue Knight" were novels written while he was actively employed in law enforcement. Quitting police work and turning to full time writing, "The Choirboys" was also the start of a new approach. Where in his first two books, Wambaugh portrayed conventional and heroic fictional policemen as the basis for his characters, starting with "The Choirboys", he began to use dark humor and outrageous incidents to emphasize the psychological peril inherent in modern urban police work.

Furthermore, in "The Choirboys", Wambaugh used names of many characters by often unflattering nicknames rather than given names e.g. Herbert "Spermwhale Whalen, "Father" Willie Wright and Henry "Roscoe" Rules. It is no coincidence that Wambaugh left the L.A.P.D. while writing "The Choirboys" as the reader will discover that in this book he became sharply critical of the command structure of the L.A.P.D. and individuals within it, and later, of city government as well. It is interesting to note that in 1977, "The Choirboys" was made into a film starring Louis Gossett, Jr. and James Woods. However, the movie lost the focus that Wambaugh so eloquently set forth in his novel. Wambaugh's book had "The Choirboys", i.e. the five sets of L.A.P.D partners which, while on night watch, were joined together by the pressures of the job. Wambaugh showed that this patrol squad was composed of men of varying temperaments and they chose to spend their pre-dawn hours decompressing from the job in relaxing drink and sex sessions they deemed "choir practice" in MacArthur Park. Wambaugh's thrust was that these men were endangered ultimately not by the violence of their jobs but by their choice of off-duty entertainment. However, in the film, the entire ending was changed by the producer. Ostensibly to make it more interesting, the film showed Wambaugh's characters as a bunch of drunken debauchers, while the book had "The Choirboys" as sympathetic characters. Ultimately the film was unsuccessful and critically panned. Wambaugh himself refused to have his name associated with the film, as considered it to be an extremely poor interpretation of his novel. For this reason, he is uncredited as it's creator. In 1995, "The Choirboys" was selected by the "Mystery Writers of America" as #93 of "The Top 100 Crime Novels of all Time". But Wambaugh didn't stop there. He has written a total of 19 nonfiction accounts of crime and detection and novels, with his most recent contribution to the literary field of "Hollywood Station" (2006 novel), "Hollywood Crows" (2008 novel) and finally, as of this writing, "Hollywood Moon" (2009 novel). However, "The Choirboys" will give you everything-crime, humor, sarcasm, violence, sex, gore, war and much more! A great book!
reviewed The Choirboys on + 292 more book reviews
Another good read. Joalice
reviewed The Choirboys on
Police pranks in the LAPD. It's a guy thing.
reviewed The Choirboys on + 117 more book reviews
Great Wambaugh.
reviewed The Choirboys on + 119 more book reviews
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 and all remaining Americans were evacuated, thus ending America's role in the Vietnam War. The U.S. "Apollo" and the Soviet "Soyuz" spacecrafts took off for their historic July 15th link up in space. Gerald Ford experienced two unsuccessful assassination attempts on his life, one by ex Charles Manson gang member Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme. Muhammed Ali defeated Joe Frazier in the "Thriller in Manilla", The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Minnesota Vikings in New Orleans to win the Super Bowl, and the Cincinnati Reds defeated the Boston Red Sox in 7 games to capture baseball's "fall classic", and Joseph Wambaugh penned "The Choirboys"

The Choirboys was a tragicomedy that parodied the effects of urban police work on young officers, which Wambaugh exaggerated through the exploits of his characters, a group of Los Angeles police officers in the Wilshire Division of the L.A.P.D. Wambaugh used a group of ten patrol officers as his main characters that held end-of-shift "get together's" which Wambaugh euphemistically coined "choir practice". It was sarcastically called "choir practice" to disguise the true nature of these meetings from their superior officers, which involved heavy drinking, complaints about their superior officers, war stories, and group sex with a pair of raunchy, overweight "police groupie" barmaids.

Wambaugh had these "choir practices" held in MacArthur Park, overviewing downtown Los Angeles. Although a novel, MacArthur Park (named after General Douglas MacArthur) is a real park located at 2230 West 6th St., in the Westlake neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. Aside from Wambaugh's novel, MacArthur Park was featured as the setting in two movies, e.g. "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang", and "Training Day". Sardonically disillusioned, at these "choir practices", each of Wambaugh's officers expresses differently that many of the fellow officers they work with are not unlike the suspects they arrest, and the absurd regulations of the L.A.P.D. are oppressively enforced on them while their commanders (who usually acquire their positions through nepotism, favoritism and are without basic police work skills) indulge themselves hypocritically.

I do not want to be a "plot spoiler", but I will mention that the theme of police officer suicide provides all the way to the end of this novel a grim undercurrent to the black humor and is suggestive of a subconscious motivation for all "The Choirboy's" activities. The author, Joseph A. Wambaugh, born January 22, 1937, was originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was the son of a police officer, and joined the U.S. Marines at age 17. He works this into "The Choirboys" early, as he starts off with "The Secret of The Cave", which is a description of two future police officers experiences while they were trapped in a cave near Khe Sanh, South Vietnam in 1967. This little vignette at the beginning of "The Choirboys" has later disastrous consequences at the conclusion of this book, as the reader will find out. One of Wambaugh's characters, officer Sam Niles, due to the aforementioned Vietnam experience, developed severe claustrophobia, which later became a key factor in what Wambaugh called the "MacArthur Park shooting".

Wambaugh married at 18, received a B.A. and M.A. degree from California State University in Los Angeles, and then joined the L.A.P.D in 1960. Rising from the rank of patrolman to detective sergeant, he served until 1974. Because he was amongst their ranks, Wambaugh had a unique perspective on police work which greatly assisted him in his first novel, "The New Centurions", published in 1971 to critical acclaim and popular success. Wambaugh actually remarked while working, "I would have guys in handcuffs asking me for autographs". Both "The New Centurions" and his second book, "The Blue Knight" were novels written while he was actively employed in law enforcement. Quitting police work and turning to full time writing, "The Choirboys" was also the start of a new approach. Where in his first two books, Wambaugh portrayed conventional and heroic fictional policemen as the basis for his characters, starting with "The Choirboys", he began to use dark humor and outrageous incidents to emphasize the psychological peril inherent in modern urban police work.

Furthermore, in "The Choirboys", Wambaugh used names of many characters by often unflattering nicknames rather than given names e.g. Herbert "Spermwhale Whalen, "Father" Willie Wright and Henry "Roscoe" Rules. It is no coincidence that Wambaugh left the L.A.P.D. while writing "The Choirboys" as the reader will discover that in this book he became sharply critical of the command structure of the L.A.P.D. and individuals within it, and later, of city government as well. It is interesting to note that in 1977, "The Choirboys" was made into a film starring Louis Gossett, Jr. and James Woods. However, the movie lost the focus that Wambaugh so eloquently set forth in his novel. Wambaugh's book had "The Choirboys", i.e. the five sets of L.A.P.D partners which, while on night watch, were joined together by the pressures of the job. Wambaugh showed that this patrol squad was composed of men of varying temperaments and they chose to spend their pre-dawn hours decompressing from the job in relaxing drink and sex sessions they deemed "choir practice" in MacArthur Park. Wambaugh's thrust was that these men were endangered ultimately not by the violence of their jobs but by their choice of off-duty entertainment. However, in the film, the entire ending was changed by the producer. Ostensibly to make it more interesting, the film showed Wambaugh's characters as a bunch of drunken debauchers, while the book had "The Choirboys" as sympathetic characters. Ultimately the film was unsuccessful and critically panned. Wambaugh himself refused to have his name associated with the film, as considered it to be an extremely poor interpretation of his novel. For this reason, he is uncredited as it's creator. In 1995, "The Choirboys" was selected by the "Mystery Writers of America" as #93 of "The Top 100 Crime Novels of all Time". But Wambaugh didn't stop there. He has written a total of 19 nonfiction accounts of crime and detection and novels, with his most recent contribution to the literary field of "Hollywood Station" (2006 novel), "Hollywood Crows" (2008 novel) and finally, as of this writing, "Hollywood Moon" (2009 novel). However, "The Choirboys" will give you everything-crime, humor, sarcasm, violence, sex, gore, war and much more! A great book!
reviewed The Choirboys on + 119 more book reviews
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 and all remaining Americans were evacuated, thus ending America's role in the Vietnam War. The U.S. "Apollo" and the Soviet "Soyuz" spacecrafts took off for their historic July 15th link up in space. Gerald Ford experienced two unsuccessful assassination attempts on his life, one by ex Charles Manson gang member Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme. Muhammed Ali defeated Joe Frazier in the "Thriller in Manilla", The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Minnesota Vikings in New Orleans to win the Super Bowl, and the Cincinnati Reds defeated the Boston Red Sox in 7 games to capture baseball's "fall classic", and Joseph Wambaugh penned "The Choirboys"

The Choirboys was a tragicomedy that parodied the effects of urban police work on young officers, which Wambaugh exaggerated through the exploits of his characters, a group of Los Angeles police officers in the Wilshire Division of the L.A.P.D. Wambaugh used a group of ten patrol officers as his main characters that held end-of-shift "get together's" which Wambaugh euphemistically coined "choir practice". It was sarcastically called "choir practice" to disguise the true nature of these meetings from their superior officers, which involved heavy drinking, complaints about their superior officers, war stories, and group sex with a pair of raunchy, overweight "police groupie" barmaids.

Wambaugh had these "choir practices" held in MacArthur Park, overviewing downtown Los Angeles. Although a novel, MacArthur Park (named after General Douglas MacArthur) is a real park located at 2230 West 6th St., in the Westlake neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. Aside from Wambaugh's novel, MacArthur Park was featured as the setting in two movies, e.g. "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang", and "Training Day". Sardonically disillusioned, at these "choir practices", each of Wambaugh's officers expresses differently that many of the fellow officers they work with are not unlike the suspects they arrest, and the absurd regulations of the L.A.P.D. are oppressively enforced on them while their commanders (who usually acquire their positions through nepotism, favoritism and are without basic police work skills) indulge themselves hypocritically.

I do not want to be a "plot spoiler", but I will mention that the theme of police officer suicide provides all the way to the end of this novel a grim undercurrent to the black humor and is suggestive of a subconscious motivation for all "The Choirboy's" activities. The author, Joseph A. Wambaugh, born January 22, 1937, was originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was the son of a police officer, and joined the U.S. Marines at age 17. He works this into "The Choirboys" early, as he starts off with "The Secret of The Cave", which is a description of two future police officers experiences while they were trapped in a cave near Khe Sanh, South Vietnam in 1967. This little vignette at the beginning of "The Choirboys" has later disastrous consequences at the conclusion of this book, as the reader will find out. One of Wambaugh's characters, officer Sam Niles, due to the aforementioned Vietnam experience, developed severe claustrophobia, which later became a key factor in what Wambaugh called the "MacArthur Park shooting".

Wambaugh married at 18, received a B.A. and M.A. degree from California State University in Los Angeles, and then joined the L.A.P.D in 1960. Rising from the rank of patrolman to detective sergeant, he served until 1974. Because he was amongst their ranks, Wambaugh had a unique perspective on police work which greatly assisted him in his first novel, "The New Centurions", published in 1971 to critical acclaim and popular success. Wambaugh actually remarked while working, "I would have guys in handcuffs asking me for autographs". Both "The New Centurions" and his second book, "The Blue Knight" were novels written while he was actively employed in law enforcement. Quitting police work and turning to full time writing, "The Choirboys" was also the start of a new approach. Where in his first two books, Wambaugh portrayed conventional and heroic fictional policemen as the basis for his characters, starting with "The Choirboys", he began to use dark humor and outrageous incidents to emphasize the psychological peril inherent in modern urban police work.

Furthermore, in "The Choirboys", Wambaugh used names of many characters by often unflattering nicknames rather than given names e.g. Herbert "Spermwhale Whalen, "Father" Willie Wright and Henry "Roscoe" Rules. It is no coincidence that Wambaugh left the L.A.P.D. while writing "The Choirboys" as the reader will discover that in this book he became sharply critical of the command structure of the L.A.P.D. and individuals within it, and later, of city government as well. It is interesting to note that in 1977, "The Choirboys" was made into a film starring Louis Gossett, Jr. and James Woods. However, the movie lost the focus that Wambaugh so eloquently set forth in his novel. Wambaugh's book had "The Choirboys", i.e. the five sets of L.A.P.D partners which, while on night watch, were joined together by the pressures of the job. Wambaugh showed that this patrol squad was composed of men of varying temperaments and they chose to spend their pre-dawn hours decompressing from the job in relaxing drink and sex sessions they deemed "choir practice" in MacArthur Park. Wambaugh's thrust was that these men were endangered ultimately not by the violence of their jobs but by their choice of off-duty entertainment. However, in the film, the entire ending was changed by the producer. Ostensibly to make it more interesting, the film showed Wambaugh's characters as a bunch of drunken debauchers, while the book had "The Choirboys" as sympathetic characters. Ultimately the film was unsuccessful and critically panned. Wambaugh himself refused to have his name associated with the film, as considered it to be an extremely poor interpretation of his novel. For this reason, he is uncredited as it's creator. In 1995, "The Choirboys" was selected by the "Mystery Writers of America" as #93 of "The Top 100 Crime Novels of all Time". But Wambaugh didn't stop there. He has written a total of 19 nonfiction accounts of crime and detection and novels, with his most recent contribution to the literary field of "Hollywood Station" (2006 novel), "Hollywood Crows" (2008 novel) and finally, as of this writing, "Hollywood Moon" (2009 novel). However, "The Choirboys" will give you everything-crime, humor, sarcasm, violence, sex, gore, war and much more! A great book!