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Lines and Shadows Hardcover – February, 1984


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 383 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Co; 1st edition (February 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688026192
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688026196
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.1 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #591,790 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"With each  book, it seems, Mr. Wambaugh's skill as a writer  increases . . . . In Lines And Shadows  he gives an off-trail, action-packed true account  of police work and the intimate lives of policemen  that, for my money, is his best book  yet."--The New York Times Book Review.

  "A saga of courage, craziness, brutality and humor  . . . . One of his best books, comparable to  The Onion Field for storytelling  and revelatory power."--Chicago  Sun-Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

Not since Joseph Wambaugh's best-selling The Onion Field has there been a true police story as fascinating, as totally gripping as . . .Lines And Shadows. The media hailed them as heroes. Others denounced them as lawless renegades. A squad of tough cops called the Border Crime Task Force. A commando team sent to patrol the snake-infested no-man's-land south of San Diego. Not to apprehend the thousands of illegal aliens slipping into the U.S., but to stop the ruthless bandits who preyed on them nightly--relentlessly robbing, raping and murdering defenseless men, women and children. The task force plan was simple. They would disguise themselves as illegal aliens. They would confront the murderous shadows of the night. Yet each time they walked into the violent blackness along the border, they came closer to another boundary line--a fragile line within each man. and crossing it meant destroying their sanity and their lives.

"With each book, it seems, Mr. Wambaugh's skill as a writer increases . . . . In Lines And Shadows he gives an off-trail, action-packed true account of police work and the intimate lives of policemen that, for my money, is his best book yet."--The New York Times Book Review.

"A saga of courage, craziness, brutality and humor . . . . One of his best books, comparable to The Onion Field for storytelling and revelatory power."--Chicago Sun-Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Too disorganized and boring.
bobloumck
Mr. Wambaugh has written this story beautifully from all aspects.
Robert Malafronte
The book recalls an experiement that lasted just over a year.
William A. Hunter

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Slokes VINE VOICE on October 8, 2003
Format: Paperback
I'm both in awe and suspicious of this book. It purports to tell the true-life story of a group of undercover police officers, most of Mexican descent, who work steathily to entice robbers preying on the heavy illegal alien traffic flowing into San Diego County from Baja California into attacking them, then turning the tables on their would-be victimizers.

I'm in awe because it reads like fiction, with deep insights into the professional and personal lives of each of the policemen who are part of the BARF (Border Alien Robbery Force) team. We find out how they spend their off-hours, drinking and cheating on their wives with the sort of abandon of the cheerfully doomed. We discover how much they come to dislike one another, and particularly their leader, a hotshot in disco chains named Manny Lopez. The action sequences are riveting, and you get a real flavor for the desolate highlands these officers probe, and the desperate characters, both deadly and vulnerable, that they come across.

But it reads too much like fiction. These guys either opened up to Wambaugh to a degree few ever do, not even to a very good, empathetic writer who asks all the right questions, or else the writer went the New Journalism route and extrapolated a lot of the inner monologues each of these officers have from time to time. I wonder about the former approach (cops are notoriously taciturn, even with each other or someone like Wambaugh who's obviously skilled at drawing them out) and question the validity of the latter, if used.

Despite the numerous offenses against man, society, and God cataloged here, Wambaugh apparently didn't leave these guys so much out to dry that they got angry. It wouldn't be a good idea angering these guys, but how did he manage it, given the story we have here?
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Robert Malafronte on September 10, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book was well researched, written and expressive. Having had worked that area many years ago as a US Border Patrolman myself, the story presented was true to life and fact written and rang true with me. The actuality of what goes on at and between the US borders and Mexico would be really unbelievable to many people who have never been there. It's a whole other world. Mr. Wambaugh has written this story beautifully from all aspects. This story is well worth the reading time spent, which goes by pretty fast once you get started!
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By James Hercules Sutton on September 26, 2004
Format: Paperback
because it DOESN'T read like fiction; it's a true story with Wambaugh applying his direct understanding of how cops behave & what happens when they act out because of stress that returns night after night & can't be eased. There's the usual Wambaugh mix of booze, women, blurs between right & law. As usual, there's no insight or development for female characters, who are cardboard cutouts. But this time, instead of playing with character & language, as in other books, he projects his insights into those he depicts, without modifying their character. It's docudrama, despite its gunslinger theme, like Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood," a form Wambaugh is good at, maybe because it relieves him of tense necessity of creating a plot. Oddly, this book isn't cynical, even when describing disappointed moral objectives; but it does prove what Aristotle said, "We become what we do repeatingly." A police department that sends men to work in Hell shouldn't be surprised if they turn into devils.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By William A. Hunter on September 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was written in the late '70's and is still true today. Only the numbers of illegal crossings have changed and they were high then; astronomical today. The book recalls an experiement that lasted just over a year.

The San Diego Police Department sent specially trained undercover police officers into the canyons of the border to intercept drug gangs and other bad actors. In the process, they also intercepted illegal aliens in their attempts to cross into the USA. Sometimes their intervention saved the lives of illegal aliens from harm dealt out by the gangs, the coyotes, and indeed, even the Mexican policia!

Wambaugh has written many superb police accounts based on fact. He presents them with grit, humor, and truth.

This is one of his best.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Anita Stemple on February 13, 2007
Format: Paperback
I have read this book over and over again. It combines drama, humor, and enough social commentary that you won't feel it is frivolous. Based on fact, it is a great read. Presently, I am trying to follow up on what happened to the "characters" after the book ended. Can't go wrong with this book.

Sabes que, Wambaugh at his best!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Andy in Washington TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 12, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Lines and Shadows relates an amazing series of events on the US/Mexican border. The book describes either a very heroic group of San Diego police officers, or an out-of-control group of gunslingers, depending on how you look at things. The events occurred in the 1980's, although the book is fairly recent.

=== The Good Stuff ===

* The story is truly amazing, bordering on unbelievable. I won't spoil the details for anyone, but if this was a work of fiction, you'd think it was over the top. In a nutshell, a group of San Diego police officers form a special task force to combat violence in the border crossing area...and become quite violent themselves.

* Wambaugh seems to have spent quite a bit a time with at least some of the principals in the group. There are some very detailed recollections of events, dialogs and thoughts. The story is fairly complete, and takes us through a whole phase in the officer's lives. Wambaugh captures much of the darker side of police officer's lives, including infidelity, alcoholism and a few assorted felonies.

* The story is spell-binding, and I got sucked up into reading the book. I won't say that it reached "can't put it down" status, but I did keep going back to it and wanted to see how it ended.

=== The Not-So-Good Stuff ===

* I have never been a fan of Joseph Wambaugh's style. The story seems to get lost in his attempts to capture witty dialog, cool language and clever turns of phrase. I found some of the individual events difficult to comprehend and am still not sure I understand what happened in several of them.

* The text seems to repeat itself, and many of the descriptions just run together.
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More About the Author

Joseph Wambaugh, a former LAPD detective sergeant, is the bestselling author of eighteen prior works of fiction and nonfiction, including The Choirboys and The Onion Field. Tim Rutten of the Los Angeles Times' said, "Joseph Wambaugh is one of those Los Angeles authors whose popular success always has overshadowed his importance as a writer. Wambaugh is an important writer not simply because he's ambitious and technically accomplished, but also because he 'owns' a critical slice of L.A.'s literary real estate: the Los Angeles Police Department -- not just its inner workings, but also its relationship to the city's political establishment and to its intricately enmeshed social classes. There is no other American metropolis whose civic history is so inextricably intertwined with the history of its police department. That alone would make Wambaugh's work significant, but the importance of his best fiction and nonfiction is amplified by his unequaled ability to capture the nuances of the LAPD's isolated and essentially Hobbesian tribal culture."
Understandably, then, Wambaugh, who lives in California, is known as the "cop-author" with emphasis on the former, since, according to him, most of his fantasies involve the arrest and prosecution of half of California's motorists. Wambaugh still prefers the company of police officers and interviews hundreds of them for story material. However, he is aghast that these days most of the young cops drink iced tea or light beer, both of which he finds exceedingly vile, causing him to obsessively fume with Hamlet that, 'The time is out of joint.' He expects to die in a road rage encounter. For more information please visit www.josephwambaugh.net or www.hollywoodmoon.com.

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