I've been reading through Charles Willeford's fantastic Hoke Mosely novels about a perpetually down-on-his-luck Miami police sergeant, and I came across this article about Joseph Wambaugh's first novel, The New Centurions, which he wrote in 1971 when he was a 34-year-old Los Angeles police officer. It is credited as being the first modern police novel.
The New Centurions was more than just a commercial blockbuster; it was also an important piece of American literature. And it remains as relevant today as it ever was. It is a story of police brutality, racism, public unrest, systemic rot, poverty, and the seemingly everlasting tension between American police departments and the communities they are supposed to protect and serve. Ernest Hemingway once declared that, "All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn." You could just as truthfully assert that all modern cop literature comes from one book by Joseph Wambaugh called The New Centurions. In fact, plenty of knowledgeable people have made that claim, including Michael Connelly, creator of the Harry Bosch novels, who wrote, "Joseph Wambaugh is the master of the modern police novel—no, scratch that, he invented the modern police novel."
I have it queued up to read after I've finished the four Hoke Mosely novels.
[via The Browser]