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The New Centurions [Kindle Edition]

Joseph Wambaugh , Michael Connelly
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In a class of new police recruits, Augustus Plebesly is fast and scared. Roy Fehler is full of ideals. And Serge Duran is an ex-marine running away from his Chicano childhood. In a few weeks they'll put on the blue uniform of the LAPD. In the months to come, they'll learn that right and wrong aren't always clearly black and white. Bad guys populate both sides of the law. Rules are subject to interpretation. Justice is slow and convoluted. And life is not fair. But for these men, these new centurions, time is an enemy. The year is 1960. The streets are burning with rage. And before they can grow old on this job, they'll have to fight for their lives...

Editorial Reviews


Wambaugh is the best in the business - Kathy Reichs


Wambaugh is the best in the business - Kathy Reichs

Product Details

  • File Size: 577 KB
  • Print Length: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (March 25, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0015DROW8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,995,639 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a rough and surprisingly beautiful novel April 28, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I have to admit that Wambaugh's subsequent books (with the exception of The Onion Field) have been major disappointments. Perhaps that is because this, his first novel, is such a wonderful and complete book. Everything else seems to be a valient yet failed effort to recapture to wonder and confusion of this bristling masterwork. It deals with the trials, triupmhs and personal failures of three young cops, the now stock characters of the confused kid, the inept failure trying to make something out of himself and the brainy, yet physically weak intellectual who tries to out smart every situation. It takes them from academy training up through the Watts riots of 1965. The characters are real, innately believable and sympathetic and abhorrent and cruel. I loved this book. With the exception of the brutal novels of James Ellroy, there is no better "cop" fiction available, and it is infinately more realistic than Ellroy's work because we get the sense that Wambaugh truly was there at these events, that he honestly understand s what it is like to be young and scared with a gun and a badge when the whole world is falling apart. It took about four or five books before Wambaugh became just another second rate crime novelist. This is the finest of his almost true-crime fiction. Likely you will burn through this absorbing novel in the shortest time possible. Compelling, funny, action-packed and sad, this is a wonderful book that, within its ever growing sub-genre, will likely never be equaled.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent examination of what makes cops tick November 1, 2002
By Plaque
Format:Mass Market Paperback
"The New Centurions" came as a bit of a surprise to me. I read other Wambaugh works, but they were written more recently. This book was written back in the early part fo Wambaugh's career, and I feel under the false assumption that it was going to be inferior.
Boy, was I wrong. This is the most honest and perfect police novel I have ever read, and I liked it more than the author's later work (which I love).
"The New Centurions" focuses on the lives of three Los Angeles cops from bot camp to their 5 year anniversary on the force. Not a police procedural, the emphasis is rather on the lives of the characters and the various experiences they go through as police officers. Alternately brutal, funny, smart, sad, warm, philosophical, and ugly, "The New Centurions" is an extremely well-done piece of realistic fiction. These characters could be real.
I won't spoil anything here, but I have to recommend this book to anyone interested in the cop lifestyle. I'm going to give this book to my brother who has contemplated becoming a police officer, since I think the realism here can be an eye-opener.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As usual, Wambaugh delivers. April 14, 2003
By Plaque
Joseph Wambaugh never ceases to entertain me. �The Blue Knight� is one of his earlier works, and so far it�s a very close second to �The New Centurions� for my favorite Wambaugh novel.
The novel tells the story of Bumper Morgan, a Los Angeles beat cop who is three days from retirement. Bumper is a big, fat, loveable glutton with a bit of a sadistic streak. We follow his last few days on the police force while he begrudgingly drives his patrol car through his long time beat in LA. Bumper explains that he prefers walking the beat, but since he�s too old and fat he is forced to drive � his legs aren�t what they used to be.
Bumper tells his own story, and everything is told through his eyes. As usual, Wambaugh�s gifted use of sharp, witty dialogue and scathing �common-man� analysis of the streets brings Bumper�s story to life. Everyone on his beat loves him. Restaurant owners pile heaps of culinary delights in front of him on a daily basis, and it�s obvious Bumper LOVES to eat� many times my mouth started watering while reading the descriptions of a wide variety of foods laid out for this loveable cop.
When he�s not eating (a rare occasion, or so it seems), Bumper meets with other locals: strip club owners, convenience store managers, even homeless bums whom he pays for info on the local crooks. Bumper is proud of himself for paying his informants out of his own pocket rather than paying out of the PDs �kitty�; he thinks it keeps his sources anonymous and safe.
As warm, loveable and thoughtful our hero is, there is a sadistic side to Bumper Morgan as well. He�s not above turning up the heat on the undesirables, and it seems to me that it�s considered to be part of the job for him; certainly nothing to think twice about.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book July 20, 2000
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I chose this book after reading previous reviews, for a summer reading project. I am going into 11th grade and it is mandatory that we read 2 books over the summer. I chose this one and was surprised how amazing it was. My stepfather is a cop and thats why it stood out of the crowd of other books. The book is about 3 men, and how they go from rookies to great cops in L.A. I was totally surprised by the ending, which I wont give away. I recommend this book to a mature teen, or adult. Great characterization and simply, 2 thumbs up!
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Realistic Cop Indoctrination. February 14, 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
A centurion was literally a Roman officer in charge of a hundred-man contingent of soldiers in a legion of three to six thousand men. They were the front-line leaders who issued forth from Rome for five hundred years, beating barbarians into submission and maintaining law and order throughout the empire. Wambaugh applies this moniker to his unique tale of three rookies issuing forth from the police academy, fresh and idealistic as they set about to clean up Los Angeles.
They have a lot to learn. As it turns out, right and wrong aren't always clearly black and white. Bad guys populate both sides of the law. Rules are subject to interpretation. Justice is slow and convoluted. And life is not fair.
Wambaugh brings his unique real-life experience in LAPD to bear on this story, showing the maturation of cops in believable fashion. The book is a little dated in terms of police procedure, but the underlying story and message are same-day fresh. This is a cut above the typical cop's tale. --Christopher Bonn Jonnes, author of Wake Up Dead.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great read.
Published 10 days ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun to read
I found this book entertaining enough to warrant the purchase, a little unusual as it was written in the First Person, and the main character is larger than life when it comes to... Read more
Published 21 days ago by Eddie Wannabee
5.0 out of 5 stars Still Relevant After All These Years
Classic - even decades later. Reflects the real-world experience of the author as a former cop.
Published 1 month ago by Always Question
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Realistic portrayal of cop life.
Published 1 month ago by ramram
3.0 out of 5 stars It's OK - nothing to write home about.
not what I expected. I guess that I was expecting something from the Serpico series.
Published 2 months ago by Ron Harrison
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes you reminisce to days when cops were men.
Makes you reminisce to days when cops were men. And how the noble career takes its toll on them
Published 2 months ago by C. Mc.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book.
Published 3 months ago by G. Davenport
4.0 out of 5 stars He is such a great author that I was unable to put down this ...
This was my second Joseph Wambaugh novel. He is such a great author that I was unable to put down this book. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Martin
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good steps by steps and the different effects on their ...
This story is about a group of newly graduated cadets from the police academy, as they hit the streets for the 1st time, and follows them as they learn what it is to be a police... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Janice Coe
5.0 out of 5 stars enjoyed it!
old school cop it really was back in the day...enjoyed it!!
Published 5 months ago by storm adams
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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 or


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