Read Lines and Shadows by Joseph Wambaugh Online


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 DieNot 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"...

Title : Lines and Shadows
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780553763256
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 416 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Lines and Shadows Reviews

  • Mari Stroud
    2018-10-30 20:53

    I like Wambaugh's true crime because he's so good at teasing out the individual nuances of personality and dysfunction that crop up any time a group is allowed to develop an Us vs. Them mentality without getting too folksy OR too detached. It's a fine line. Basically, in the late 1970s of Southern California, a group of cops set out to curb incidences of bandits preying upon illegal immigrants in the no-man's land just across the US border and essentially replicated the Zimbardo experiment in the wild. Touches upon themes of race, culture, masculine identities, and the cop code. While the personalities involved began to unravel fairly quickly, they set out to firstly put an end to the rape, murder, and assault of illegal immigrants, to secondly catch the smugglers and coyotes themselves, and only as a distant third to put any kind of dent into the flow of illegal immigrants itself. Read this book, and then marvel at how the hell we've managed to move so far backwards over a course of thirty years.

  • JamesLove
    2018-11-13 01:59

    My first exposure to the world of Joseph Wambaugh, was as a five year old kid watching Police Story. Police Woman, The Blue Knight and Joe Forrester got their own sometimes short-lived series thanks to Joe Wambaugh and other writers like him.Lines and Shadows is an important book with the increased concern over illegal immigration. The story is about a Task Force started around 1976 involving USBP, INS, and the San Diego Police Department. This was an attempt to deal with the criminal elements preying on illegal immigrants. The Coyotes, Mexican Federales, Hispanic-American youth gangs and other unsavory types that would murder, rape and rob immigrants attempting to enter the United States.One solution might be to move Camp Pendleton down to the southern edge of San Diego and Chula Vista instead of the northern part of Oceanside. Many an illegal immigrant would think twice before attempting to trespass on a USMC installation.

  • Lauraley Dilgard
    2018-11-08 23:52

    I read and re read this book it was so good. Living in San Diego County it was close to home for me I thoroughly enjoyed it. Exciting and real I felt like I was right there in the trenches with these brave men, knowing one of them was also exciting for me to read about how he was involved.After meeting the author Joseph Wambaugh at the retirement party for Sheriff Bill Kolender (here in La Mesa, County of San Diego California) I asked him what he was currently writing. He said Hollywood Moon, the third book in a series. So I bought all three and started reading them. I love them all!At this retirement dinner the men that were featured in Wambaugh's book Lines and Shadows were all there to honor Sheriff Kolender. They all posed for pictures and autographed our books. It was quite an exciting night for all.

  • Jess
    2018-11-19 00:57

    I have enjoyed much of Joseph Wambaugh's writing, but this one was only okay for me. Lines and Shadows tells the story of a special unit of San Diego police officers, dedicated to breaking up the criminals preying on Mexicans trying to sneak across the border. Started by one lieutenant who was tired of seeing these helpless people become victims in the southernmost part of his jurisdiction, the unit began with good intentions but was fraught with problems, almost from the start.The story itself is interesting, but I felt like this story was more suited to a long magazine article than a book. The characters had some interesting moments but weren't compelling enough to hold me. Not a bad story, but nothing I'd give more than three stars.

  • SueAnn
    2018-10-19 20:46

    Very well written. Stopped reading on page 102 because it got so graphic that I had to put it down for a while.

  • Warren Whitmire
    2018-11-04 23:36

    Overall, I have to admit that, as a Joseph Wambaugh fan, I was a little bit disappointed in the length and pace of the book.What I didn't like about the book: Wambaugh's works of fiction consist of more concise, faster paced stories that read more like the folklore of Law Enforcement than like fiction. "Lines and Shadows" was definitely worth reading, but could have been shorter and more focused. Some of his narratives of violent incidents are too long, and a couple of his character descriptions are verbose.What I did like about the book: The vivid characterizations of cops, illegal aliens, and predatory criminals are unforgettable. His humane, infuriating, yet humorous descriptions of illegal immigration will challenge your perspective regardless of what you think about the issue. This is a complex issue, and Wambaugh covers it fairly. The book also gives accurate descriptions of men dealing with what we call "PTSD" today.

  • Pranav
    2018-11-08 22:56

    This is a True Story. It was true in 1984, when the book was written and it has remained true since then. In fact this is such a significant story that you will hear the same topic being discussed in the US Elections in 2016. The topic of immigration, in connection to the USA, is a tricky one. People hate it and love it equally. Of all immigrations the most debated one has been the one of the illegal kind, from Mexico to the US. The immigration of poor families who have been jumping the imaginary line in hope for a better future.This book provides us with account of some of the steps San Diego Police Department had taken to curb the crime involved with illegal immigration. One of these steps was an experiment conducted by Lieutenant Richard “Dick” Snider. Dick Snider was extremely disturbed by the large amount of atrocious crime conducted on the illegal immigrants by bandits, gangs and so called guides. The illegal immigrants (who are referred to by the term pollo in the book) would get robbed, raped, murdered by these criminals on the borders. To prevent these unthinkable atrocities Dick Snider proposed that a Task Force called Border Alien Robbery Force (BARF) of policemen dressed as pollos would patrol the border and arrest the violent gangs and criminals on the border.The story then provides a detailed account of what these policemen called as Barfers, went through. The Barfers who are predominantly of Mexican Origin, take this as an opportunity display their Valor. They soon set up a system to thwart robberies. As they slowly start to succeed, the media frenzy picks up and the Barfers become Heroes in the public eye. However, the job itself requires them to be at places like inside sewers to intercept robberies. They are constantly gripped by the fear of being shot at or stabbed in the dark any day. This gradually has a negative effect on the Barfers. Eventually, the mental health of the Barfers starts to deteriorate, with most of them resorting to drinking heavily and also contemplating suicide.The Book throws light on the business of maintaining country borders. This story is significant because after the BARF experiment the crime across the Mexico-US border has only increased. The immigrants, not having enough jobs and facilities, in the US have formed really violent gangs. The influence of the Drug Cartels has also risen across the border. Many more robust measures are being taken now to prevent both illegal immigration as well as crime by gangs against the border jumpers. This has become a hot topic in almost every US Presidential Election. This book successfully immortalizes the Valor of the Barfers providing us with intense images of an important yet now seemingly tiny incident in the border struggles.

  • Paul Haspel
    2018-10-25 00:41

    In San Diego, one has a definite sense of living on the line. That line is the international border that separates the affluence of Southern California from the poverty and despair of Tijuana. Every day, people from Mexico and Central America who want to break out of the cycle of Third World deprivation seek to cross the border into the United States; and in the late 1970's, a compassionate San Diego police officer saw how these unfortunate campesinos were being preyed upon by border bandits, and decided to try to do something about it. As Joseph Wambaugh tells it in Lines and Shadows, the result was the formation of a Border Crime Task Force whose members disguised themselves as pollos ("chickens," a slang term for vulnerable undocumented aliens) and walked out into a desert landscape of rattlesnakes and scorpions and tarantulas and cacti, with the goal of decoying robbery-minded border bandits into attacking them. The gambit worked all too well, resulting in many arrests and much positive publicity for the San Diego Police Department, but also in a number of shootings in which both cops and robbers were wounded, and ultimately two people died. Wambaugh, a veteran police officer, writes of the pressures that these police officers face -- prejudice against Mexican-American police officers in a predominantly Anglo police department; heavy drinking in response to constant stress; strained marriages as the celebrity status of these modern "gunslingers" draws groupies. Wambaugh's prose is workmanlike, suitable to the no-nonsense police world that he describes; readers looking for the noir-ish poetry of a Chandler or a Hammett will be disappointed, and readers who are offended by coarse language should most definitely avoid this book. All in all, Wambaugh provides a striking picture of an unusual police experiment that brought into relief the existence of an ongoing problem that no one has yet managed to solve. This book was written over 25 years ago. How many undocumented aliens will try to cross that invisible line in the sand tonight? How many of them will be preyed upon by bandits who are capable of untold cruelty? What officials, either in Mexico or in the United States, are looking out for these poor, vulnerable, stateless people? The answers still seem as difficult to grasp as an invisible line in the sand, or a shadow cast by the moon.

  • Gary
    2018-11-14 21:00

    This is the story of a special task force established by the San Diego Police Department in the late 1970s called the Border Crime Task Force.Those were different times. Illegals from Mexico were crossing the border, much as today, but the purpose of the task force was not to hunt them down but to protect them from bandits were saw them as prey for robbery, rape, and sometimes murder. The task force was made up mostly of Mexican-American cops who were woefully underrepresented among San Diego police forces, and those recruited saw serving on it as much to gain respect as to do something more challenging than their ordinary beats.The task force lasted but over a year, but in that short span it went from heralded glory to ignominious demise. It took its toll on everyone in it--alcoholism, broken marriages, afflictions akin to PTSD. And whereas the enterprise began with noble motives, it deteriorated rapidly into a mean parody of itself.Joseph Wambaugh has something of a Walter Winchell writing style, kind of hard-edged and "gee whiz" at the same time. I didn't really care for it. He writes about how the task force often ended their shifts by retiring to a bar and telling their stories. Well-known as a former cop himself, Wambaugh strikes me as someone who would fit right in, regaling others with the stories he had to tell.Essentially what happened with the task force was that it "went rogue." And here's where this account continues to hold insight for today. News reports have been more frequent about the phenomenon of rogue cops. This book grants something of an insider's view how certain elements of closed police culture can have that happen, where cops become so inwardly focused on something other than their true mission that they mold the law however they see fit.

  • Ed
    2018-11-01 20:55

    Author Wambaugh interrupts his string of best selling novels of the LAPD to deliver his first non-fiction entry since The Onion Field (1973) in this 1984 tale of policing the Mexican border.363.232 Story of 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.

  • Elizabeth☮
    2018-11-04 23:44

    This book details the formation of a special unit created in 1978 in San Diego. The unit's main goal was to help "pollos" (immigrants crossing into the US) stay clear of bandits (men that would rob, rape and harm the pollos they came across).The police officer in charge, Manny Lopez, becomes drunk with the media attention and soon the lines between good and bad blur. The men under his command are afraid to counter Lopez's orders in fear that they may be considered sissies (not the word used, but you get the picture). There are nights of debauchery and relationships become strained between man and wife and commander and officer. An interesting look at border relations in a different time period. As I read, I realized not much has changed in the way of how the US regards immigration and how to deal with the issue. Also, an interesting look at culture and identity and the distinction between Mexicans from the South and those that live just across the imaginary line (and there is a difference). I wouldn't mind reading more by this author. He is a retired police officer and he doesn't hold any punches holding up the mirror to his fellow brothers.

  • Eric
    2018-10-25 01:00

    Being a fan of the "Onion Field", I was looking forward to reading this book. Wambaugh doesn't disappoint with this magnificent story of the "Last of the Gunslingers". Set in 1976 San Diego, a sympathetic police Lieutenant Dick Snider formulates a plan to reduce murder, rape, and robbery at the US / Mexcio border. An outstanding cast of Mexican-American police officers from San Diego are chosen for the experiment. Led by egocentric and charismatic Manny Lopez, the team encounters many dangers in the canyons on the border. Wambaugh depicts confrontations between the brave cops and bandits with gripping detail. He captures the machismo and courage of each hero.This story is a triumph and a tragedy. The violence of the canyons takes a toll on the team in light of being the media's favorite eleven o'clock news story. Things come and go, the Border Alien Robbery Force was no exception. But there are many who live today thanks to their efforts down there on that "imaginary line".

  • Marti
    2018-11-16 22:49

    Most of my reading is fiction. Usually the only nonfiction books I read are for book group. I have read Joseph Wambaugh's books in the past and enjoyed them. This time I found it rather hard going--the subject of a separate police unit in San Diego dealing with Mexicans crossing the border as well as 'bandits' who prey upon them is interesting. The members of this unit were well described, but at times I found the reading ponderous. This experiment had a profound effect on all of the members, most of whom were of Mexican descent in order to fit in. It lasted for a certain amount of time, being set up as an experiment.

  • Gerald Kinro
    2018-11-17 23:00

    This is a tragic story of a group of Los Angeles police officers organized and charged with doing the near impossible—protecting illegal aliens from the criminal element after their crossing. The officers were heroic but their efforts came at a huge price, their own lives, well-being, and sanity. While the writing and the story were good, I did not enjoy this book as I have done other true crime by Wambaugh. It is probably due to what I saw as tremendous sacrifices by the officers to do band aid surgery to a problem that should be addressed by a higher level of government.

  • Travis Kendall
    2018-10-22 23:01

    A really good, page turning true story about a group of cops assigned to pose as illegal immigrants in order to catch the bandits who were attacking Mexican migrants.. At times sad, funny, and extremely violent. At its core this is a story about a group of cops pushed to the edge of sanity and the consequences of their work. Gritty and honest, these are not the cops on tv, these are flawed and often not very likeable human beings. An excellent and very relevant novel.

  • ღ Carol jinx~☆~
    2018-11-17 23:50

    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.

  • Tom Schulte
    2018-11-05 23:57

    Watching a Nat Geo Wild show about undercover police work in Laredo, TX reminded of this book. The team of innovative, danger-seeking police on "bandit patrol" dressed as "pollos" (illegal immigrants) and when interacting with "coyotes" or other borderland ne'er-do-wells would yell "barf" before they whipped out guns to "interdict". Of course, this was very dangerous and eventually proved too dangerous to continue. I thank Wambaugh for putting the tales of the exploits to paper.

  • Bobby Norman
    2018-11-15 18:46

    Joseph Wambaugh has the ability to take us into the hearts and minds of others. To make deserving the ones we would otherwise dismiss with the dismissive flick of our wrist. To show us their fears, fantasies, and dreams. The only prodding this reader needs to purchase a book is to see the name Joseph Wambaugh on the cover. Thank you Joe.Bobby NormanAuthor of Black Water

  • Jim
    2018-10-30 22:43

    Another corker of a true life account, following the Border Patrol trying to keep on top of illegal immigrants crossing the Mexican American border. Wambaugh does an excellent job of filling out the characters, the setting and the sheer stress and tension of the job, as well as seeing the desperation from the ordinary Mexicans trying to gain access to the States. Excellent stuff.

  • Lynn
    2018-10-21 01:41

    I just re-read this, having read it as a young adult. I enjoyed it just as much and had a much more understaning perspective. Was suprised to find how my impressions of some of the main charachters had changed and I found them less glamorous and had more questions on the morality of the whole premise behind the motives of the main players. Very interesting.. also exciting and a good read.

  • Laurie
    2018-11-04 22:36

    I found this a difficult read, therefore not as enjoyable as I anticipated. Too many characters to follow, language beyond my comfort level. And sometimes what I perceived as "red herrings" in the plot. What kept the rating at a 3 was the humor. It was quite funny in spots, but not enough to carry the story along.

  • John Blevins
    2018-10-21 22:04

    story of a immigration task force established by the San Diego PD .It is non-fiction, and an incredible story. And it so makes you want to solve the immigration problem.It also gets into team relationships, and the role of politics in police tactical decisions.

  • Kimarie Matthews
    2018-11-07 20:58

    While the subject of the special police unit could have been interesting, I found Wambaugh's use of colloquial language in his storytelling to be awkward and distracting. For example, he describes the action with phrases like, "He flossed his teeth with the muzzle of his gun."

  • Gerard
    2018-10-20 23:47

    Interesting for those interested in the subject matter- law enforcement at the Mexican/American border in the 70's/80's. The only Wambaugh I really enjoyed was "Floaters" a novel that it appears I am unable to review on this site.

  • Fishface
    2018-10-30 21:42

    Great story of a special detachment of police officers from the USA side of the Mexican border, deployed to protect illegal aliens from being victimized on their way to find a better life. Well written by Joe Wambaugh.

  • Mark Goodwin
    2018-10-22 02:56

    Read this years ago and still remember it. The book tells of Mexicans trying to cross the Rio Grande in an effort to migrate to the US.It's a real eye opener to the tactics that are used, the dangers and the frustration that is felt by the Border Patrols.Well worth reading

  • Michael
    2018-11-13 21:50

    It has been awhile since I read this book, almost 20 years. I still remember this book as very intense realistic story of the boarder patrol. Not knowing what will happen on their next shift, what are they expecting shift. The dangers that lurked in the dark, nothing and nobody were safe.

  • Zach Fortier
    2018-11-02 21:50

    I read Lines and Shadows years ago. JW set the standard with his book Blue Knight. One of my all time favorites. Lines and shadows is dark and shadowy as well. i do think it was a good book but my favorite is still Blue knight.

  • Patricia
    2018-11-14 01:00

    I read this book back in the 80's; it's amazing after 15 years; the issue is still real today as it was back then. Highly recommend for those folks in the border patrol dept. or anyone planning to seek a career with the border patrol.

  • P
    2018-11-04 22:55

    A nonfiction book about illegal aliens and the people who terrorize them