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by Peter Moskos

February 24, 2011

The Choirboys

This may not be news to anybody who was old enough to read in 1975, but Joseph Wambaugh writes a good police story. I just finished reading The Choirboys, 38 years after it was written. It's about a bunch of police in Los Angeles: "They were just policemen. Rather ordinary young guys, I thought"

It the book "true"? I don't know. I imagine most of it is, at the very least, as they say, "Inspired by a true story." As they also say: "You can't make this sh*t up." It's also about a bygone era in policing, when cops drunk on duty, screwed any whore who came along, and earned their keep by staking out public bathrooms to bust "fags." While the book is certainly dated, a lot of it still rings true. Some things never change.

In the officers' stories and camaraderie, there's something very heartwarming about the fraternity: the sheer pointless of "torpedoing" another officer (the German officer, naturally), the bad sex jokes, the idiotic criminals. Somehow--despite the alcoholism, adultery, suicide, and generally self-destructive behavior--it kind of makes me miss the job.


Johnny Law said...

Have you ever read The New Centurions or The Blue Knight? Both are by Wambaugh as are very similar to The Choirboys but more serious. I really enjoyed The New Centurions.

Another interested series by the same author is the Hollywood Station books. He writes the same type stuff but in the modern LAPD. It is interested about how so much is different yet still the same.

All those books seem to capture police work fairly well.

PCM said...

Those two Wambaugh books are next on my list. I think I even started New Centurions before I was a cop. It all seemed too far fetched. But now I can relate.