185 of 190 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorites...
I was reluctant to read The Lords of Discipline as I'm not much interested in books with military themes. But I finally decided to read it as I love Pat Conroy and it takes place in my favorite of all cities, Charleston, SC. Wow! Not only was I blown away, but I also have a new book for my top ten list.
Aspiring novelist and basketball player, Will McLean,...
Published on September 26, 2004 by Cynthia K. Robertson
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Slooow
I purchased this novel because I loved South of Broad and Beach Music. Pat Cnroy is a very good author. However, this book was not like his others. If you are interested in military academy life, then you may feel differently. I did not choose to finish it.
Published 9 months ago by pam
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185 of 190 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorites...,
Aspiring novelist and basketball player, Will McLean, finds himself a college student at the Carolina Military Institute (The Citadel--thinly disguised). Will was not interested in the military, but he promises his dying father that he will attend his alma mater. Will doesn't exactly excel in military studies, but he's a decent student, an athlete, and his professors and peers recognize him for his integrity and his sense of fairness. Still, this is not an easy time to be a student in a military academy--especially in the South. The Viet Nam War was raging, the military was unpopular and desegregation was knocking on the doors of Southern schools. The Fourth Class system is brutal at best, and most cadets will look on their freshman year and Hell Night as living nightmares. There are also rumors of a powerful and clandestine group of Institute students and alumni called The Ten. While nothing has come forward to prove their existence, the possibility of such a group casts a cloud over the Corps of Cadets.
Will and his roommates have survived the trials and tribulations of their underclassmen years. But circumstances change very rapidly. The first black student enrolls at the Institute and Will is asked to be a secret mentor to Cadet Tom Pearce. It quickly becomes apparent that a group of cadets is trying to run Pearce out of the Institute. Will steps in to intervene, and he discovers a truth so horrendous that this knowledge can bring down the Institute. It also makes Will and his roommates targets. Not only is their graduation now in jeopardy, but their lives are also in danger.
Conroy is a master wordsmith, and I find myself reading his sentences over and over again. It's comparable to taking a bite of a decadent dessert, and rolling it around on your tongue to savor every forkful. His descriptions are priceless, his characters well fleshed out, and the plot will have you marathon reading to finish this 498-page book. I especially loved his observations about Charleston and the low country. Conroy also deals with timeless and universal issues. They include the struggles of a young boy growing into manhood and how difficult it is to stand up for your beliefs. Also, how those that love you can cause the worst hurt, and how those you think are loyal friends can betray you in a heartbeat. Conroy dwells on how it is possible to love and hate something at the same time (in this case, the Institute), and how the righteous don't always prevail. And while things might turn out in the end, they might not turn out the way you envision them.
The one bad thing about Pat Conroy is that he is not one of those "serial" bestsellers who produce a book every year-whether they have anything to say or not. While we often have to wait years between books, Conroy's works are definitely worth the wait. Also, after reading The Lords of Discipline, I suggest picking up his nonfiction work, My Losing Season. Detailing his senior year playing basketball for The Citadel, Conroy will reveal how much of The Lords of Discipline is autographical.
56 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Citadel Grad Reviewing "The Lords of Discipline",
This review is from: The Lords of Discipline: A Novel (Paperback)Just a few days after I was admitted to attend The Citadel, over a decade ago, my mother picked up this book and read it cover to cover in no time at all. A couple days later she handed it to me, wishing that I would read it... and decide to attend college elsewhere. I read the book cover to cover, enthralled and fascinated the whole way through, and when I finished the last page my resolve to attend the school that had inspired this book had only grown stronger.
The Fourth Class System Pat Conroy describes in this book is entirely accurate, as he went through it himself and thus knew it first-hand. Much has changed since Conroy was there, but I can personally attest to the fact that the brotherhood he depicts in this story between the protagonist, Will, and his roommates is a perfect an example of the type of relationships that still evolve between cadets who share that same experience to this very day.
Conroy describes the difficulties the South Carolina Military Institute had in acclimating to racial integration in this novel. I can tell you that I attended The Citadel shortly after gender integration had been mandated by the federal district courts, and many of the same emotions that Conroy describes in this story were running through the Corps of Cadets during my tenure at the military college of South Carolina. The struggles of the school during my time there were not so much rooted in some terrible dislike of females, or even a gender bias as to the abilities of male versus female, but more a resistance to change of any sort... just like what Conroy depicts in The Lords of Discipline as the first black student attended college there amidst a tremendous backlash from within the Corps of Cadets (not to mention from many Alumni as well). Of course there are always going to be some racists and chauvinists at any college or university in the United States, this isn't something exclusive to a Southern military school, but Conroy really does a good job of demonstrating how so much of the resistance against these historic changes came not from hatred but rather from a desperate attempt to hold onto a tradition and a way of life ingrained in the South Carolinian culture of antiquity and state pride.
Conroy also beautifully depicts the emotional travails of the cadets at SCMI, as they struggle with popular backlash against the Viet Nam War... all while contemplating what their lives have in store for both those who take their commissioning into the United States armed forces, as well as for those who opt to remain civilians upon graduating. Conroy so genuinely conveys the true sentiment of the young men who really faced this tough decision through his characters in this novel. I only know how accurate his depiction is since I was a Cadet at the Citadel on 9/11/2001, and I graduated at a time when the War in Iraq was only just a year underway.
Pat Conroy exposes the psyche of a living institution along South Carolina's Ashley River in The Lords of Discipline. This is an excellent novel with more non-fiction to it than meets the eye. Who will represent the school's standard of the complete man (or "complete person" these days) - the citizen/soldier who wears the ring with deserving pride; who will fall short of expectations and bring shame upon the school; and who "should" never have the opportunity to enter the school's gates in the first place? Pat Conroy captures the true essence of this Southern military school in The Lords of Discipline - not simply for the way it was 40 years ago, but for the way it has always been, intrinsically and inescapably - forever and always.
54 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is incredible - stayed up all night reading it!,
By A Customer
Well, my friend Richard showed me a passage from Lords of Discipline which simply blew me away - it was exactly what I felt about Dr. Stirling and Conroy just put it so beautifully. I was immediately struck by his eloquence and his mastery of imagery and I borrowed the book and read it from cover to cover without stopping. After he died, Dr. Stirling's wife later told me that the letter I sent him with the Conroy quotation had touched him deeply and to this day The Lords of Discipline will always hold a special place in my heart. I met Pat Conroy at a book signing in Atlanta and was able to thank him personally for his words of inspiration. He was a lovely man and I would recommend any of his books (The Water is Wide is my second favorite). If I had only read the summary of what The Lords of Discipline is about I would not have bothered to read it - I am a female and I have never been one to enjoy military type novels but this was a big surprise. This book is about friendship, loyalty, betrayal, love, and coming of age in a confusing society. It was not what I expected at all and now I never pass by a book simply because it doesn't "look" like one I would enjoy. Reading The Lords of Discipline changed my view on that. Obviously, I simply can not say enough about this book - please read it - you won't be disappointed!
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A military Masterpiece,
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OMG,
This review is from: The Lords of Discipline: A Novel (Paperback)I am a sophomore in high school, and this was the required honors book to read over the summer. So, I went to the book store, picked it up and it sat on my nightstand for two months. When I finally decided I couldn't procrastinate any longer, I begrudgingly picked it up and started reading it. It took me about three days to get through the entire book. It is, bar none, the best book I have ever read in my life. I really felt like I was able to relate to the characters and what they were going through. I laughed, I cried, and I loved. I loved this book, despite my original first judgments. Do not let the length, the cover, or the things written on the back of the book discourage you from picking it up. If you have not read this book, no matter what age you are, you need to go to the bookstore right now and buy it, and immediately start reading it. It is the best written book, and even if you don't usually like things about the military, you will love this book. Perfect for all ages.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A " couldn't put it down" book,
It was very interesting reading this book because even though it is a fictional story it is based on some true events (which are chronicled in "My Losing Season") as well being based on the realities of many that went through the rigors and trials of a military academy. Conroy interviewed students that graduated as well as students that didn't make it at various military schools (Citadel, VMI, Air Force Academy, etc.) to use their shared experiences to make this work ring true even though it was a fictional story much like many of the Law and Order television episodes are based on real crimes.
I kept wondering how much of this story was totally made up and how much was based on real events. In "My Losing Season" Conroy tells the real story of his relationship with a girl that appears in the fictional work here. He changed a lot of the details, but the core truth of how badly she hurt him rings true in both the fictional story here and the actual account of the real events. It made me wonder what other stuff was nearly real in this fictional book...
Mr. Conroy talks about how his alma mater wouldn't let him back on campus for many years after this book was published. It hit a cord which reverberated for a long time and I'll take that as a clue that this work, much like "The Prince of Tides" and "Beach Music" were thinly veiled truths, pieces of art that are much to mirror like for comfort.
One downside to reading Conroy in general is the depression that always seems to hit me. I must fight my own demons that get stirred up as I turn the pages reading about his. But despite the scabs that get picked and the wounds that hurt over again, I like reading what he has to say because it's real. Real and true are funny ways to describe fiction but when must of us go day to day hiding and playing games perhaps it is enlightening to go ahead and pretend that what is real, is not, and what is not; is.
If you have not yet read Pat Conroy, this is as good a place to start as any. This work is not as heavy duty as "Prince of Tides" and "Beach Music" and I'd imagine would probably appeal to a wider audience. Once you've read this I'd wager that you'll be anxious to get your hands on "My Losing Season". Enjoy.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Lords of Discipline,
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Duty, Honor, Country,
Pat Conroy, himself a graduate of the model for the fictional Institute, The Citadel, weaves a compelling tension-filled story while eloquent in his setting, Charleston, South Carolina. Employing gracious proper Southern dialect filled with flowers, antiques, and tradition, he describes brutality, racism, sexism, and betrayal. The language works well because it provides within its description the biting irony of the scenes. Will McLean fights through every taboo the South has to offer in the 1960's: a black cadet in the all-white tradition of the military college, an unwed pregnant girl shunned by society for her shame while the father of her baby remains blameless, the brutal plebe system that crushes individuality while remaking young men as soulless military automatons, the classed society of high south old money and it's cruelty to those not born within the circle, and the fact that military honor doesn't equate to individual morality.
Fighting through this maze of pitfalls, McLean has only his closest and dearest friends to rely on, roommates Dante "Pig" Pignetti and Mark Santoro, two brawny, Northern boys of Italian descent and Tradd St. Croix, an "old Charlestonian" (from a very rich and respected family). His moral guide through the story is the epitomy of hard military men, Colonel "Bear" Berrineau, a vulgar battle-scarred man whose character is unimpeachable and whose idea of duty includes awful repercussions.
I loved this story and I couldn't put it down. If I had one criticism to give, it's that Conroy tried to put too much into the novel - too many problems and taboos and tried to fix hundreds of years worth of problems in one book. But, that's not really a criticism because he did it and did it well. Bravo.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GRRRRRRRREAT!!!!!!!,
By A Customer
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lords of Discipline,
This review is from: Lords of Discipline (Hardcover)The Lords of is Discipline is the story of Will McLean as he goes from boyhood to manhood in a brutal military setting. His independence and strong views create an inner conflict with the system that he's supposed to conform to. Everyone will learn something when they take a look through his eyes at his world and read his opinionated views. The novel goes off on tangents and subplots that are a pleasure to read and show will's ideas about universal issues like friendships, romance, maturity, and people. The setting of Charleston, South Carolina presents an aristocratic element of society with a pride that, when mixed with the brutality of the institute, creates a violent underground faction that turns into a serious threat to Will and his friends. A desperate struggle breaks out that not only puts Will's military career in danger, but his life as well. Conroy creates the injustices and the helplessness the boys encounter so realistically that the reader lives through it almost as deeply as they do. The setting of the Southern town is described so well that, after putting the book down, you'll remember it as if you've been there. The characters are so realistic throughout that you'll feel as though you've known them for years. When Will's friend turns on him, you'll feel as if you've been betrayed. When Will falls in love, you will too. The whole story comes alive in this well constructed, fast-paced, and easy to read mix of a thriller and coming of age story. The book shows the power of racism in the late sixties, a unique perspective on Vietnam, the need of an individual to belong, the conflict of discipline and morality, the power of class and society over the individual, and the conflicts of different moral codes. You'll get an inside look at boot camp and the way the military system works. Conroy will tell you everything about the bizarre social and moral code of the old South. Conroy seems to have an insight into dozens of issues and situations. No matter who you are, you'll find something you can relate to as well as something totally new in this book.
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The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy