The lowest online Lords of Discipline: A Novel outlet online sale

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A Wall Street Journal Book Club pick • The acclaimed bestseller about upheaval at a Southern military academy, hailed by Larry King as “an American classic,” by the legendary author of The Prince of Tides and The Great Santini

In this powerful, mesmerizing, and acclaimed bestseller, Pat Conroy sweeps us into the turbulent world of four young men—friends, cadets, and blood brothers—and their days of hazing, heartbreak, pride, betrayal, and, ultimately, humanity. We go deep into the heart of the novel’s hero, Will McLean, a rebellious outsider with his own personal code of honor who is battling into manhood the hard way. Immersed in a poignant love affair with a haunting beauty, Will must boldly confront the terrifying injustice of a corrupt institution as he struggles to expose a mysterious group known as “The Ten.”

Praise for The Lords of Discipline

“If you are reading another book when you begin The Lords of Discipline, prepare to set it aside.”The Denver Post

“A work of enormous power, passion, humor, and wisdom [that] sweeps the reader along on a great tide of honest, throbbing emotion.”The Washington Star

“Few novelists write as well, and none as beautifully.”Lexington Herald-Leader

Review

“If you are reading another book when you begin The Lords of Discipline, prepare to set it aside.” The Denver Post

“Reading Pat Conroy is like watching Michelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel.” Houston Chronicle

The Lords Of Discipline is, simply, an American classic.” —Larry King

“A work of enormous power, passion, humor, and wisdom [that] sweeps the reader along on a great tide of honest, throbbing emotion.” The Washington Star

“Few novelists write as well, and none as beautifully.” Lexington Herald-Leader

From the Inside Flap

In this powerful, mesmerizing, and highly acclaimed bestseller, PAT CONROY sweeps us into the turbulent world of four young men–friends, cadets, and blood brothers–and their days of hazing, heartbreak, pride, betrayal, and, ultimately, humanity.

We go deeply into the heart of the novel''s hero, Will McLean, a rebellious outsider with his own personal code of honor, who is battling into manhood the hard way. Immersed in a poignant love affair with a haunting beauty, Will must boldly confront the terrifying injustice of a corrupt institution as he struggles to expose a mysterious group known as "The Ten."

From the Back Cover

In this powerful, mesmerizing, and highly acclaimed bestseller, PAT CONROY sweeps us into the turbulent world of four young men-friends, cadets, and blood brothers-and their days of hazing, heartbreak, pride, betrayal, and, ultimately, humanity.
We go deeply into the heart of the novel''s hero, Will McLean, a rebellious outsider with his own personal code of honor, who is battling into manhood the hard way. Immersed in a poignant love affair with a haunting beauty, Will must boldly confront the terrifying injustice of a corrupt institution as he struggles to expose a mysterious group known as "The Ten."

About the Author

Pat Conroy (1945–2016) was the author of The Boo, The Water Is Wide, The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline, The Prince of Tides, Beach Music, The Pat Conroy Cookbook: Recipes of My Life, My Losing Season, South of Broad, My Reading Life, and The Death of Santini.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One

When I crossed the Ashley River my senior year in my gray 1959 Chevrolet, I was returning with confidence and even joy. I''m a senior now, I thought, looking to my right and seeing the restrained chaste skyline of Charleston again. The gentleness and purity of that skyline had always pleased me. A fleet of small sailboats struggled toward a buoy in the windless river, trapped like pale months in the clear amber of late afternoon.

Then I looked to my left and saw, upriver, the white battlements and parapets of Carolina Military Institute, as stolid and immovable in reality as in memory. The view to the left no longer caused me to shudder involuntarily as it had the first year. No longer was I returning to the cold, inimical eyes of the cadre. Now the cold eyes were mine and those of my classmates, and I felt only the approaching freedom that would come when I graduated in June. After a long childhood with an unbenign father and four years at the Institute, I was looking forward to that day of release when I would no longer be subject to the fixed, irresistible tenets of martial law, that hour when I would be presented with my discharge papers and could walk without cadences for the first time.

I was returning early with the training cadre in the third week of August. It was 1966, the war in Vietnam was gradually escalating, and Charleston had never looked so beautiful, so untouchable, or so completely mine. Yet there was an oddity about my presence on campus at this early date. I would be the only cadet private in the barracks during that week when the cadre would prepare to train the incoming freshmen. The cadre was composed of the highest-ranking cadet officers and non-coms in the corps of cadets. To them fell the serious responsibility of teaching the freshmen the cheerless rudiments of the fourth-class system during plebe week. The cadre was a diminutive regiment of the elite, chosen for their leadership, their military sharpness, their devotion to duty, their ambition, and their unquestioning, uncomplicated belief in the system.

I had not done well militarily at the Institute. As an embodiment of conscious slovenliness, I had been a private for four consecutive years, and my classmates, demonstrating remarkable powers of discrimination, had consistently placed me near the bottom of my class. I was barely cadet material, and no one, including me, ever considered the possibility of my inclusion on the cadre.

But in my junior year, the cadets of fourth battalion had surprised both me and the Commandant''s Department by selecting me as a member of the honor court, a tribunal of twenty-one cadets known for their integrity, sobriety, and honesty. I may not have worn a uniform well, but I was chock full of all that other stuff. It was the grim, excruciating duty of the honor court to judge the guilt or innocence of their peers accused of lying, stealing, cheating, or of tolerating those who did. Those found guilty of an honor violation were drummed out of the Corps in a dark ceremony of expatriation that had a remorseless medieval splendor about it.

Once I had seen my first drumming-out, it removed any temptation I might have had to challenge the laws of the honor code. The members of the court further complicated my life by selecting me as its vice chairman, a singularly indecipherable act that caused me a great deal of consternation, since I did not even understand my election to that cold jury whose specialty was the killing off of a boy''s college career. By a process of unnatural selection, I had become one of those who could summon the Corps and that fearful squad of drummers for the ceremony of exile. Since I was vice chairman of the court, the Commandant''s Department had ordered me to report two weeks before the arrival of the regular Corps.

In my senior year, irony had once again gained a foothold in my life, and I was a member of the training cadre. Traditionally, the chairman and vice chairman explained the rules and nuances of the honor system to the regiment''s newest recruits. Traditionally, the vice chairman had always been a cadet officer, but even at the Institute tradition could not always be served. Both tradition and irony have their own system of circulation, their own sense of mystery and surprise.

I did not mind coming back for cadre. Since my only job was to introduce the freshmen to the pitfalls and intricacies of honor, I was going to provide the freshmen with their link to the family of man. Piety comes easily to me. I planned to make them laugh during the hour they were marched into my presence, to crack a few jokes, tell them about my own plebe year, let them relax, and if any of them wanted to, catch up on the sleep they were missing in the barracks. The residue of that long, sanctioned nightmare was still with me, and I wanted to tell these freshmen truthfully that no matter how much time had elapsed since that first day at the Institute, the one truth the system had taught me was this: A part of me would always be a plebe.

I pulled my car through the Gates of Legrand and waited for the sergeant of the guard to wave me through. He was conferring with the Cadet Officer of the Guard, who looked up and recognized me.

"McLean, you load," Cain Gilbreath said, his eighteen-inch neck protruding from his gray cotton uniform shirt.

"Excuse me, sir," I said, "but aren''t you a full-fledged Institute man? My, but you''re a handsome, stalwart fellow. My country will always be safe with men such as you."

Cain walked up to my car, put his gloved hand against the car, and said, "There was a rumor you''d been killed in an auto wreck. The whole campus is celebrating. How was your summer, Will?"

"Fine, Cain. How''d you pull guard duty so early?"

"Just lucky. Do you have religious beliefs against washing this car?" he asked, withdrawing his white glove from the hood. "By the way, the Bear''s looking for you."

"What for?"

"I think he wants to make you regimental commander. How in the hell would I know? What do you think about the big news?"

"What big news?"

"The nigger."

"That''s old news, and you know what I think about it."

"Let''s have a debate."

"Not now, Cain," I said, "but let''s go out for a beer later on in the week."

"I''m a varsity football player," he said with a grin, his blue eyes flashing. "I''m not allowed to drink during the season."

"How about next Thursday?"

"Fine. Good to see you, Will. I''ve missed trading insults with you." I drove the car through the Gates of Legrand for my fourth and final year. I realized that the Institute was now a part of my identity. I was nine months away from being a native of this land.

Before I unloaded my luggage in the barracks, I took a leisurely ride down the Avenue of Remembrance, which ran past the library, the chapel, and Durrell Hall on the west side of the parade ground. The Avenue was named in honor of the epigram from Ecclesiastes that appeared above the chapel door: "Remember Now Thy Creator in the Days of Thy Youth." When I first saw the unadorned architecture of the Institute, I thought it was unbelievedly ugly. But it had slowly grown on me.

The beauty of the campus, an acquired taste, certainly, lay in its stalwart understatement, its unapologetic capitulation to the supremacy of line over color, to the artistry of repetition, and the lyrics of a scrupulous unsentimental vision. The four barracks and all the main academic buildings on campus faced inward toward the parade ground, a vast luxurious greensward trimmed like the fairway of an exclusive golf course. The perfume of freshly mown grass hung over the campus throughout much of the year. Instruments of war decorated the four corners of the parade ground: a Sherman tank, a Marine landing craft, a Jupiter missile, and an Air Force Sabre jet. Significantly, all of these pretty decorations were obsolete and anachronistic when placed in reverent perpetuity on campus. The campus looked as though a squad of thin, humorless colonels had designed it. At the Institute, there was no ostentation of curve, no vagueness of definition, no blurring of order. There was a perfect, almost heartbreaking, congruence to its furious orthodoxy. To an unromantic eye, the Institute had the look of a Spanish prison or a fortress beleaguered not by an invading force but by the more threatening anarchy of the twentieth century buzzing insensately outside the Gates of Legrand.

It always struck me as odd that the Institute was one of the leading tourist attractions in Charleston. Every Friday afternoon, the two thousand members of the Corps of Cadets would march in a full-dress parade for the edification of both the tourists and the natives. There was always something imponderably beautiful in the anachronism, in the synchronization of the regiment, in the flashing gold passage of the Corps past the reviewing stand in a ceremony that was a direct throwback to the times when Napoleonic troops strutted for their emperor.

Ever since the school had been founded in 1842, after a slave insurrection, the Corps had marched on Fridays in Charleston, except on the Friday following that celebrated moment when cadets from the Institute had opened fire on the Star of the East, a Northern supply ship trying to deliver supplies to the beleaguered garrison at Fort Sumter. Historians credited those cadets with the first shots in the War Between the States. It was the proudest moment in the history of the school, endlessly appreciated and extolled as the definitive existential moment in its past. Patriotism was an alexin of the blood at the Institute, and we, her sons, would march singing and eager into every battle with the name of the Institute on our lips. There was something lyric and terrible in the fey mindlessness of Southern boys, something dreary and exquisite in the barbaric innocence of all things military in the South. The Institute, romantic and bizarre, was the city of Charleston''s shrine to Southern masculinity. It was one of the last state-supported military schools in America, and the boys who formed her ranks were the last of a breed. I had always liked the sound of that: McLean, last of a breed.

I pulled my car up to the front of Number Four barracks. In my loafers, Bermuda shorts, and a T-shirt, I savored my last moments out of uniform. I was lifting my luggage out of the trunk when I was frozen into absolute stillness by the roar of a powerful voice behind me.

"Halt, Bubba."

I had jumped when he let loose with his scream. I always jumped when he yelled at me. He knew it and enjoyed the fact immensely. I did not turn around to face him but merely stood at attention beside my car.

"Good afternoon, Colonel," I said to Colonel Thomas Berrineau, the Commandant of Cadets.

"How did you know it was me, Bubba?" he asked, coming into my field of vision.

"I''d recognize that high-pitched castrato voice anywhere, Colonel. How was your summer, sir?"

"My summer was fine, Bubba. I could relax. You weren''t on campus. I didn''t have to worry about my niece''s virtue or plots against the Institute. Where did you spend your summer, McLean? The Kremlin? Peking? Hanoi?"

"I stayed home knitting mufflers for our boys in Vietnam, Colonel," I said. "It was the least I could do."

"You son of a Bolshevik," he whispered softly as he drew his face nearer to mine. A cigar hung from his pendulous lower lip, and its ash glowed brightly inches away from my right cornea. I had never seen the Bear without a cigar in his mouth. I could more easily have imagined him without a nose or ears. You could often smell his approach before you saw him. Your nose would warn you of the Bear''s quiet scrutiny before he unleashed that voice so famous among cadets.

"McLean, I bet you were plotting the overthrow of this country, the assassination of all the members of the Senate and the House, and the imprisonment of all military officers."

"You''re absolutely right, Colonel. I was lying. I spent a jolly summer in the Kremlin studying germ warfare with Doctor Zhivago. But one thing you got wrong. I would have nothing to do with the imprisonment of all military officers. I voted to line them all up against the wall and let them have it with Yugoslav-made flame throwers."

"Who would be the first American officer to meet such a fate, lamb?" the Bear asked rhetorically. The cigar ash was on the move toward the eye again.

"Why, the most fierce fighting man in the history of the United States Army, sir. The man with the soul of a lion, the heart of a dinosaur, the brain of a paramecium, and the sexual organs of a Girl Scout. The first to be executed would be you, sir."

"You god-blessed fellow traveler Leninist," he roared, smiling. "I''ve got one more year to make a man out of you, McLean."

"In June, I''ll be a full-fledged alumnus, Colonel. A bona fide, dyed-in-the-wool, legitimate Institute man. How does that make you feel?"

"Ashamed, Bubba. Sick to my stomach. You''ve got to give me one good shot at getting you kicked out of here. Promise to do something, lamb, anything. We have an international reputation, and you could be the undoing of a hundred years of pride and tradition."

"I''ll make the school proud, Colonel," I said, backing away from him slightly. "I''m going to have an operation and have the ring surgically implanted in my nose."

The Bear threw his head back and bellowed out a laugh. He had an extravagant, pulpy nose, stiff, white-thatched hair, sad but cunning brown eyes the color of his cigars, and a great shovel of a mouth with dark uneven teeth that looked as though he could strip-mine a valley or graze in a field of quartz.

"It''s good to see you back, Bubba. Good to see you and all the lambs. This place doesn''t seem natural when the Corps is gone for the summer. But I need to see you sometime tomorrow and it''ll be serious, no pootin'' around like we''re doing today. Meet me at Henry''s down on Market Street at 1200 manana. That''s espanol, McLean, and it means the day after today."

"A man at home in many languages, Colonel. You should try English."

"Like you little girls down in the English Department. Tell me the truth, Bubba, is it really true what they say about English majors in the Corps? And this is confidential. I wouldn''t breathe a word of it to higher authorities."

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4.6 out of 54.6 out of 5
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Top reviews from the United States

Gabby M
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Didn''t Think I''d Love It, But I Did
Reviewed in the United States on June 19, 2017
Pat Conroy''s The Lords of Discipline is a book I snagged on Kindle sale years ago and forgot. I honestly don''t even know what drew me to buy the book in the first place, military school coming-of-age doesn''t really speak to me, but I''m really glad that I did buy it because... See more
Pat Conroy''s The Lords of Discipline is a book I snagged on Kindle sale years ago and forgot. I honestly don''t even know what drew me to buy the book in the first place, military school coming-of-age doesn''t really speak to me, but I''m really glad that I did buy it because I loved it.

Will McLean is about to start his senior year at the Institute, a military academy in Charleston (based on the Citadel, Conroy''s own alma mater). He didn''t really want to go, but promised his father he would before his father died and gets a basketball scholarship anyways. He''s not distinguished himself as a military man during his time there and doesn''t plan to enlist and ship out to Vietnam as so many of his classmates intend, but he''s almost made it through and is closely bonded with his three roommates, especially native blue-blooded Charlestonian Tradd St. Croix. Will is a quasi-outsider...while he''s Southern and from an Institute family, he''s also Catholic and an athlete, and probably the closest thing to a liberal on campus. Which is why he''s assigned to look after incoming student Tom Pearce, the first black student to ever enroll, and protect him from the threat of a mysterious group called The Ten, who are deadset against integration. As Will''s final year unfolds, he relives his own traumatic freshman year and we see how he''s been shaped (sometimes against his own will) by the experiences he''s had at the Institute as he tries to look out for Pearce, investigates The Ten, and falls in love with a troubled young socialite.

First of all, Conroy is an incredible writer. His plotting and pacing are masterful. He covers a lot of territory (freshman hazing, two suicides, a love affair, an investigation into a shadowy group, the experience of participating in organized athletics), but it never drags, nor does it feel overcrowded. Drama drives not from the mystery plot (which really only picks up in the last 20% or so of the book), but from experiences and relationships. The prose is strong and sure, lyrical without verging into purple territory, poignant and resonant. I have to imagine that Conroy loves Charleston as much as his protagonist does, because much of his most sweeping and sentimental prose is dedicated to the city and made me want to take a visit there myself.

The characters Conroy creates feel real...we obviously spend the most time with and are asked to identify the most with Will, but he''s not perfect or beyond reproach. Even the person who''s ultimately revealed as the "bad guy" has motivations that make sense. He places those characters in high-stakes situations without turning it into the lurid melodrama it could spill over into with less control. It''s just a fantastic novel and I''m adding everything Conroy wrote to my TBR and I recommend this book highly to anyone, even if you don''t think you''d like it.
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Claire Fullerton
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Pat Conroy has been my favorite author since I read and re-read "The Prince of ...
Reviewed in the United States on July 16, 2016
Pat Conroy has been my favorite author since I read and re-read "The Prince of Tides," followed by "Beach Music," "South of Broad," and all of his others. What I''ve come to realize is Conroy has been the master of voice since the inception of his... See more
Pat Conroy has been my favorite author since I read and re-read "The Prince of Tides," followed by "Beach Music," "South of Broad," and all of his others. What I''ve come to realize is Conroy has been the master of voice since the inception of his literary career. His is language mastered in fluid, conversational prose sprung from his command of vocabulary. He''s the kind of descriptive writer that weaves in what he''s thinking and feeling throughout the story, and in so doing, gives you permission to identify and embrace your own humanity. His books are commentaries on life and the way we wade through it, and he constructs them relentlessly through the nuances of case and point. Typically, Conroy''s narrators are outsiders going through the isolated motions of trying to fit into the unbalanced premise of the story. The Lords of Discipline is such an example, when Will McLean walks into his fourth year as a cadet of a South Carolina military academy called The Institute. By this time, Will McLean is a confirmed nonconformist, in it but not of the regiments of this insular college dedicated to beating into its attendees the soul-crushing, disciplinary rules of The Institute, where the cadets subsume their own identity in favor of fitting into the system, which tears them apart before it puts them back together. In flashback, Conroy takes the reader through every step of The Institutes plebe system, where bewildered novices are captive in what is a brutal but sanctioned game of survival. And all around are well-drawn, malicious characters running the show; they are the cadets who have survived the plebe system and are now hell-bent on inflicting the same misery upon freshmen who are inductees into a type of consciousness aimed at making men out of boys. In the midst of this paradigm, Will McLean becomes a member of a brotherhood comprised of himself and his three roommates. They create a cooperative world within a world in a bond that will forever sustain them. In a wider sense, The Lords of Discipline is both metaphoric and axiomatic of the larger truths of life, wherein the inflexible demands of society threatens individuality, or else. Will McLean enters the process with innocence that scratches its way to a wisdom that knows how to game the system. His is a triumphant coming of age in a jeopardous environment that lends a frame of reference for the rest of his life. And just as in life, it''s not what you say, but how you say it, and Conroy is the master of this. There is not a weak sentence in this spell-binding book; it handles craft and language and story so seamlessly as to be, yet again, another Conroy classic.
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Nenia Campbell
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Dark. Edgy. Twisted. Brilliant.
Reviewed in the United States on June 8, 2019
I understood for the first time why the punishment for Lot''s wife was so severe. There were times when it was unforgivable to look back (88%) This is a dark and edgy book that explores the same themes of innate violence and tribal belonging as LORD OF THE FLIES.... See more
I understood for the first time why the punishment for Lot''s wife was so severe. There were times when it was unforgivable to look back (88%)

This is a dark and edgy book that explores the same themes of innate violence and tribal belonging as LORD OF THE FLIES. Set in a Southern military college, THE LORDS OF DISCIPLINE is about a young Irish Catholic boy named William McLean. Since he''s the most liberal and cynical boy in the academy, he''s given the task of protecting the new black recruit who''s entering the school as a result of desegregation. Their school, Carolina Military Institute, is well known for its "plebe" system and brutal hazing methods of incoming freshmen, culminating in something called "Hell Night." Will needs to make sure that Tom Pearce isn''t run out of the school by racists who use that hazing to exert sadistic and bigoted revenge.

Unfortunately, hazing and Hell Night aren''t the worst thing about the school. There''s whispered rumors of a secret society called "The 10," filled with influential and powerful boys, who will stop at nothing to purge the school of anything that they deem damaging to the Carolina Military Institute''s honor code. And if Will McLean does his job and protects Tom, he might come under fire, too.

This was so good, you guys. Even though it''s 500+ pages, I finished it in just two days. It''s brutal and twisted and violent and awful, and has all kinds of dark themes, but it says powerful things about honor and friendship and pride and loyalty and what it means to really do the right thing. I''m a huge sucker for secret society and boarding school stories, and when you throw revenge, friendship, and plotting into the mix, I''m sold. This book didn''t fail to deliver, either. The hazing scenes are so disturbing and the stakes in this book are so, so high. There''s a lot of grief and suffering.

THE LORDS OF DISCIPLINE is why I feel the need to read old books that nobody else has heard of. This is an excellent story that I would have loved to have read in college, and I think it''s got a story in it that a lot of my friends would be interested in reading. It says a lot of bad words (the F-word, the N-word), and has a lot of tough themes running the gamut from torture and assault (sexual and physical) to teen pregnancy and suicide, but it''s such a powerful read that I feel like it''s worth the struggle. The only reason it doesn''t get a full five stars from me is because the writing can be a bit clunky and hard to get into, but man, the story is totally worth that bumpy, dumpy ride.

4 to 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Erich Ball
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Very interesting story line. Good twists and turns, with a good ending. I''m very happy to have bought and read this book.
Reviewed in the United States on January 12, 2017
This is an interesting plot, set in a dysfunctional military school environment. I some ways it reminds me of Lord of the Flies, as it explores the dark aspects of young men''s psyches when they are allowed to run free in power. Of course, being a military school there is... See more
This is an interesting plot, set in a dysfunctional military school environment. I some ways it reminds me of Lord of the Flies, as it explores the dark aspects of young men''s psyches when they are allowed to run free in power. Of course, being a military school there is significant external discipline, unlike Lord of the Flies, but still it''s an interesting exploration of psychological changes and effects.

The story itself is quite complex with well-developed characters and although generally steady it does have changes of pace. The ending is particularly interesting. Having been through a military training academy myself I''m aware of the skewed view one gets of the importance of achieving well at the academy. I watched friends who were affected for years afterwards by not achieving those standards as they came to terms with it.

So I enjoyed it greatly and plan to re-read it in the near future.

Update: I just finished re-reading it and I have to say I enjoyed it as much this time around as the first. Well worth reading.
6 people found this helpful
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Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Book Review of The Lords of Discipline by Darby Madden
Reviewed in the United States on October 2, 2016
The Lords Of Discipline by Pat Conroy is a riveting story about young cadets at a military academy coming together. The story takes place during the late sixties in Charleston, South Carolina at a highly respected military academy. At this academy a young cadet named Will... See more
The Lords Of Discipline by Pat Conroy is a riveting story about young cadets at a military academy coming together. The story takes place during the late sixties in Charleston, South Carolina at a highly respected military academy. At this academy a young cadet named Will McLean and his schoolmates form a bond that brings them together as blood brothers. The story chronicles Will''s survival of a brutal tradition of hazing at the school and his role as a mentor to the school''s first black student.

In my opinion this book took awhile to get interesting. The first half of the book is devoted to getting to know the characters, the school, the city of Charleston, and the social climate of the time. This really did help my understanding of the second half of the book, but at the time I thought it was quite slow. It wasn''t until I was through the entire book that I appreciated the importance of all the background information.

Conroy spends a great deal of time with setting and character development in the first half of the book. Even though the characters are very well described and have very different backgrounds, they seem similar in that they are all smart, clever, and witty. Conroy''s clear voice is strong in all of them and they lose their distinct personalities. Perhaps this reflects the goal of the military academy itself in producing " the whole man" but devoid of diversity from each other. It was in this context that Conroy''s Will discovers a truth about himself. Conroy writes " I felt I had a power - or a weakness, I could not be sure - given to very few human beings. I could put myself in the place of others and ask myself how I would feel if I were in there place."( Conroy iBook)
It was with this knowledge that Will propels himself into the second half of the book and finds that even though his ability to empathize was strong, his own ego was stronger. Both characteristics give rise to a sequence of events that ultimately ends in tragedy. As a reader I found this part of the book to be compelling, interesting, and thought-provoking.

Overall The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy is a incredibly profound but tragic book. It''s depth and emotion pulls you into the story and makes you feel all the things that the characters go through. You travel with them through their years at The Citadel and feel all their emotions and experiences. I would recommend this book to mid-teens and up. While this book is very readable and interesting, the story includes many difficult scenes involving brutal violence, racial hatred, and very foul language. It is these aspects the have resulted in the book being banned in the past. I feel people should read this book because it is a story you can connect to and it provides a glimpse into way of life foreign to many of us. Overall The Lords of Discipline was an intriguing, adventurous, and well written book that everyone should read.
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Wiggins
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
He wore the ring.
Reviewed in the United States on June 21, 2020
I won’t lie about it, "The Lords of Discipline" was hard to get into at first. In fact, I set this novel aside several times and read other novels before I returned and pushed through to the end. It wasn’t because the writing was bad; it’s quite excellent actually, though... See more
I won’t lie about it, "The Lords of Discipline" was hard to get into at first. In fact, I set this novel aside several times and read other novels before I returned and pushed through to the end. It wasn’t because the writing was bad; it’s quite excellent actually, though there are many instances where the prose went about a paragraph or so or page/s too long. What caused my initial struggle was the racism depicted in the story―specifically, how the issue of race was introduced (brute hatred-language, sociopolitical circumstances, and so much more) but then never expounded upon or addressed in a meaningful way. However, one must consider the date of publication it was written (1980) and then further understand that the years in which the story takes place are from 1963 to 1967.

Perhaps Conroy’s flagrant intro and dismissal of the reflection of the ‘times’ was his intention, his ‘lead-pipe subtle’ point: to spotlight the ugliness. However, it would’ve been great had he further explored the topic of racism. For the most part, Conroy floods in light the vile realities of military college life (the Citadel), where you’re “subject to the Code” from day one until day last, while occasionally shining a pen light on racism. Nonetheless, this story is beautifully written and well worth the read.
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Little Miss Fun
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Boy, this man could write!
Reviewed in the United States on November 24, 2019
My favorite read of the year! Pat Conroy wrote beautifully. I’ve read a few of his books and have loved them all so far. This one is probably my favorite, or at least a close tie with “Beach Music” (link to review). This is the story of a cadet at the Carolina... See more
My favorite read of the year! Pat Conroy wrote beautifully. I’ve read a few of his books and have loved them all so far. This one is probably my favorite, or at least a close tie with “Beach Music” (link to review).

This is the story of a cadet at the Carolina Military Institute in Charleston during the turbulent 1960''s. It’s based on Conroy’s own experiences at The Citadel.

I read that when Conroy first published this book, his alma mater shunned him for thirty years. While reading this, I couldn’t help but wonder how much of the story is based on fact. Just to prove how great of a writer he was, military stuff would normally not interest me one bit. This book had me hooked!

The friendship between the protagonist, Will, and his three roommates is just lovely. Parts of the story are truly painful and raw at times, especially all the awful and monstrous freshman hazing rituals. Those descriptions are not for the faint of heart. They’re intense and gruesome. After all that, the story is incredibly powerful and moving.

Conroy’s rich descriptions of Charleston make me want to visit there more than ever before.

“Though I will always be a visitor to Charleston, I will always remain one with a passionate belief that it is the most beautiful city in America and that to walk the old section of the city at night is to step into the bloodstream of a history extravagantly lived by a people born to a fierce and unshakable advocacy of their past. To walk in the spire-proud shade of Church Street is to experience the chronicle of a mythology that is particular to this city and this city alone, a trinitarian mythology with equal parts of the sublime, the mysterious, and the grotesque.”

“No city could be more beautiful than Charleston during the brief reign of azaleas, no city on earth.”

I’m sad that I finished this book and can’t stop thinking of all the characters. They seemed so real. As with most fabulous books, whatever I read next will likely pale in comparison.

Some of my favorite quotes:

“Honor is the presence of God in man.”

“… the world needs more roses far more than it needs more basketball players.”

“Young girls have an infinite capacity for being attracted to the wrong sort of men.”
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David
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A disturbing and magnificent story of the Deep South
Reviewed in the United States on August 11, 2014
My father is from Charleston. Reading this book was like looking through a secret window into his life and his soul. The city itself is one of the six characters – the outsider Will McLean, the loyal idiot Pig, the middleman Mark, the aristocrat Tradd, the grim, glittering... See more
My father is from Charleston. Reading this book was like looking through a secret window into his life and his soul. The city itself is one of the six characters – the outsider Will McLean, the loyal idiot Pig, the middleman Mark, the aristocrat Tradd, the grim, glittering Institute (a slight recoloring of The Citadel), and the ancient city of Charleston, South Carolina. This is a book about a white boy trying to save a black boy for all the wrong reasons, about the harm that men do to themselves and to one another for almost no reason at all, about the love that exists between brothers and about the searing pain of betrayal. It’s about the hellishness of fallen humanity. It’s about race, caste, indoctrination, cruelty, pride, and humiliation. It’s about a man who says of himself, “My goodness is my vanity, my evil. It does not well up naturally out of me but is calculated and plotted as carefully as a mariner studies the approach to an unfamiliar harbor. Sometimes I will reveal this to friends so they will like me and praise my honesty, but in actuality, I am presenting them with a mariner’s chart of my character.”

This book is a punch to the gut. It deeply disturbed me. It changed the way that I looked at things. My father is not like one of these men – not really. But it’s because my father has been rescued by Jesus Christ, not just embraced the religion that one finds everywhere in the South. And I’m glad for that.

Is this a great book? Maybe. The plot is a little too tightly wound at the end. It seems, perhaps, a bit contrived. But the writing is remarkable, and the characters are painfully, horribly human. Great or not, it’s worth reading and suffering through.
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Courtenay
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Scarey
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 14, 2021
I like Pat Conroy''s writing. The (albeit fictional) representation of an American military academy demonstrates the masochistic sadistic environment of such: admitted also found in some of the best/worst English public schools in the Victorian era. Hopefully, maybe, such...See more
I like Pat Conroy''s writing. The (albeit fictional) representation of an American military academy demonstrates the masochistic sadistic environment of such: admitted also found in some of the best/worst English public schools in the Victorian era. Hopefully, maybe, such practices - as described - have now been stopped - completely - and totally eradicated! However, I have my doubts (viz: My Lai, Abu Ghraib, etc.)
I like Pat Conroy''s writing. The (albeit fictional) representation of an American military academy demonstrates the masochistic sadistic environment of such: admitted also found in some of the best/worst English public schools in the Victorian era. Hopefully, maybe, such practices - as described - have now been stopped - completely - and totally eradicated! However, I have my doubts (viz: My Lai, Abu Ghraib, etc.)
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Andrea Duddridge
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Attention!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 22, 2014
Love it! So fascinating.
Love it! So fascinating.
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Gianluca Carpiceci
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Mixed feeling....
Reviewed in Italy on September 4, 2017
The Lords Of Discipline stood out for me as weird mix of An Officer and A Gentleman and The Dead Poets Society; if you wonder how it is possible to blend such different subjects, well that was also my problem. I thought the story was stretched and overwrought for more than...See more
The Lords Of Discipline stood out for me as weird mix of An Officer and A Gentleman and The Dead Poets Society; if you wonder how it is possible to blend such different subjects, well that was also my problem. I thought the story was stretched and overwrought for more than its first half; the lengthy, repeated descriptions of harassments, bullying and abuses happening at the Caroline Military Institute did not work as a substitute for empathy and pathos, which I thought were thoroughly lacking in the first part. Then the story turns into a kind of mystery novel in the last part, with some truly elegiac parts and some other flat melodramatic to say the least. In summary, having read all Conroy''s novels, I can say that he''s a hate or love writer, and, even within the same work, you can end up loving some parts and hating some others. While The Prince Of Tides was the book where love was for me largely predominant, this one was an even mix.
The Lords Of Discipline stood out for me as weird mix of An Officer and A Gentleman and The Dead Poets Society; if you wonder how it is possible to blend such different subjects, well that was also my problem.
I thought the story was stretched and overwrought for more than its first half; the lengthy, repeated descriptions of harassments, bullying and abuses happening at the Caroline Military Institute did not work as a substitute for empathy and pathos, which I thought were thoroughly lacking in the first part. Then the story turns into a kind of mystery novel in the last part, with some truly elegiac parts and some other flat melodramatic to say the least.
In summary, having read all Conroy''s novels, I can say that he''s a hate or love writer, and, even within the same work, you can end up loving some parts and hating some others. While The Prince Of Tides was the book where love was for me largely predominant, this one was an even mix.
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Pat Joubert
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Enough with Charleston
Reviewed in Canada on September 6, 2019
This novel is an collage of very intense anecdotes having as a backdrop the city of Charleston. Conroy does not stop showing us around the beautiful neighborhoods of this old city where the local aristocracy lives in a king of bubble. Except that at some point I got tired...See more
This novel is an collage of very intense anecdotes having as a backdrop the city of Charleston. Conroy does not stop showing us around the beautiful neighborhoods of this old city where the local aristocracy lives in a king of bubble. Except that at some point I got tired of Charleston. The beautiful houses and their rich owner slow down the story way too much, and finally, these touristic interludes become tiresome to the point where after reading half of the novel, I gave up.
This novel is an collage of very intense anecdotes having as a backdrop the city of Charleston. Conroy does not stop showing us around the beautiful neighborhoods of this old city where the local aristocracy lives in a king of bubble. Except that at some point I got tired of Charleston. The beautiful houses and their rich owner slow down the story way too much, and finally, these touristic interludes become tiresome to the point where after reading half of the novel, I gave up.
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J. A. Irwin
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Scary yet funny, a sad look into the military mind set.
Reviewed in Canada on October 10, 2017
Chilling recount of why most military leaders are messed up in the head. Supposed to be fiction but closer to the truth than you would like to think. I does have its humorous parts tho.
Chilling recount of why most military leaders are messed up in the head. Supposed to be fiction but closer to the truth than you would like to think. I does have its humorous parts tho.
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