23 August 2013

The New Centurions, by Joseph Wambaugh

This book, which was published circa 1970, is quite dated, but nevertheless I devoured it. The writing pulled me into seamy early 1960s Los Angeles, seen through the eyes of three young policemen. The story begins in the Academy, and progresses through five years of experience, through the Watts riot of 1965.

My friend Marshall loaned me this book, a very old paperback copy with extremely dark and brittle pages. This was not a shortcoming, it lent to the ambience of the story, taking place in a dim, smoky, black and white world of heat, humidity, and uncomfortable clothing.

So many cigarettes, cigars, and pipes were smoked that I was suffering from literary bronchitis by the end. It's odd how, in 2013, one recoils at the use of the word "Negro," once considered a respectful term for an African-American person. At least, as a white person in that time, I was taught that it was respectful. I don't believe that it's considered to be so anymore.

What an excellent novel, and a terrifically entertaining read. It's the first Wambaugh I've read, and I look forward to many more.

Watts Riot, Wikipedia Page