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The Wire: Truth Be Told [Hardcover]

Rafael Alvarez , David Simon
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Oct 2009
THE WIRE has been widely hailed as the greatest television series of all time. It portrays the war of attrition between the city's hardened police force, and its drug dealers, and the blurring of good and evil, justice and injustice, right and wrong. Over its five series it has built up a detailed, rich and layered portrait of Baltimore: from its corner boys touting dope and its dock workers facing extinction, through the strained education system and tainted halls of power, to the crumbling media establishment. Rafael Alvarez - a reporter, essayist and staff writer for the show - brings the reader inside this world, detailing many of the real-life incidents and personalities that have inspired the show's storylines and characters. Packed with photographs and featuring an introduction by series creator and executive producer David Simon, as well as essays by acclaimed authors George Pelecanos, Nick Hornby, Laura Lipmann, and William F. Zorzi, it covers all five series in glorious detail.

Frequently Bought Together

The Wire: Truth Be Told + The Wire Re-up: The Guardian guide to the greatest TV show ever made + The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighbourhood
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd; First Revised Edition, First Impression edition (1 Oct 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847675980
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847675989
  • Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 5.2 x 23.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 221,182 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rafael Alvarez is a novelist based in his native Baltimore. He learned to write on the city desk of the BALTIMORE SUN. He is the author of ORLO AND LEINI MEET THE INVISIBLE MAN and occasionally works as a laborer on ships crewed by the Seafarers International Union. He has been a writer on all of THE WIRE's five seasons.

Product Description


Tony KushnerNot the usual coffee-table photo book, but something substantial, complex, honest, challenging, revealing, funny and also unprecedented, unique-a book, in other words, worthy of "The Wire." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Rafael Alvarez is a novelist based in his native Baltimore. He learned to write on the city desk of the BALTIMORE SUN. He is the author of ORLO AND LEINI MEET THE INVISIBLE MAN and occasionally works as a laborer on ships crewed by the Seafarers International Union. He has been a writer on all of THE WIRE's five seasons.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
50 of 55 people found the following review helpful
By Straightforward TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase

Hello, my name is Liam, and I'm a Wire-o-holic.

I first noticed the series on Amazon in the DVD sectionThe Wire: Complete HBO Season 1-5. Attracted by the great reviews and the pedigree of the writers and producer, I ordered the first installment. Two months later and I've got through all but the fifth and final series, which is on pre-order.

The reason I tell you this is to establish where my perspective is on this book; I loved the show, the dialogue, the 'plot arc' (or whatever the new word for storylines is) - it's dazzlingly good.

The first thing that you should know if you're thinking of buying this book is that it was written as they were doing the third series, so it covers less than half the output they've completed now.

When I opened this book, my immediate reaction was one of foreboding - the layout was quite large print with lots of pictures and margin lines in evidence; it's got that look of a magazine style to it (it's like Harpercollins do Dorling Kindersley) - signs of dumbing down or padding out, perhaps. This impression dissipated slightly, but nevertheless stayed with me as I read the book, as perhaps two-thirds of it is written in the form of episode synopses. These were fairly entertaining to recap on, but it felt like I was reading a media studies textbook (as I imagine one to be, anyway) at times.

But the good stuff!
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for Wire addicts 16 Nov 2009
I hesitated a bit before buying this as it seemed from reading some reviews it was just a recap of each episode plus a bit extra. But I'm really glad I bought it. The prologue by David Simon is almost worth the price in itself, he's an eloquent, articulate and gifted writer whose ability to summarise the malaise of innercities - his reason for creating the Wire - is inspiring to read. I'm only a few chapters in, but already it's taken me back to my happy hours watching the Wire unfold and giving me interesting insights into how it all came about and what reality it was showing. If, like me, you are a Wire addict, this will help your craving when you have watched all five series and no TV programme will be the same again.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hot Wired 17 Dec 2009
This is an excellent companion to what must be the best TV series ever. There's a lot of insights and things that you might not have known - such as which of the cast were really in the "game", how the show got picked up by HBO and many other snippets. I liked the episode by episode summary, which has encouraged me to watch it all over again. The only part that wasn't quite so fantastic was an interview conducted (oddly) by the tiresome Nick Hornby, which doesn't seem to offer anything. It irritated me because at one point he's asking about why Baltimore's such a great backdrop and starts musing about why he used it in Hi-Fidelity, which of course was set in London when he wrote it. Simon comes out with some nonsense too in that interview, stating he used English actors because it was important to have faces that the viewer didn't recognize as it might distract them. Odd, when elsewhere he goes on about using actors that he knew (about half of them come from Tom Fontana's Oz) and (correctly) states that the reason for it's success is that it tells it's story without attempting to pander to an audience. Anyway, it's a small gripe and Simon's a genius so I'll let him off.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good companion to the series 17 Mar 2010
By Mr. A. Whiteside TOP 1000 REVIEWER
I have to start this review by stating that I think that 'The Wire' is one of the best TV dramas ever and is right up there with Band Of Brothers - Complete HBO Series Commemorative Gift Set (6 Disc Box Set) [2001] [DVD] and Deadwood : Complete HBO Seasons 1-3 (12 Disc Box Set) [DVD] [2004]. I like many others, was sorry to see the series end but in retrospect it probably did finish at the right time. I was hoping that a book would be brought out as a guide to the series and 'The Wire: Truth Be Told' is a very good effort.

There are synopsies for every single episode from the five series, interviews with acors, directors, writers and even true life characters that people from the series are based on. Also featured are loads of photos including some in colour. There is even a short section on the tune that Omar whistled so there is very little missing here. One thing that did niggle with me a bit was the sense of 'we are brilliant and we know it' attitude that does surface from time to time. We all know how great this series was so it doesn't really need this book to remind us in the way it sometimes does.

Still, this is a fine book and very good work has been done by Rafael Alvarez. As a guide to the programme, I don't think it is as good as the excellent Deadwood: Stories of the Black Hills which tells the story of that fabulous drama in a, perhaps, more modest way. For all that though, this book is a must have for the many of us that are still mourning the end of the legend that is 'The Wire'.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Bought this as a present.
Cant comment on it as I havent read myself.
Published 2 days ago by P. J. Wadkin
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Revisit, The Wire, not quite what I expected but I did not put it down.
Published 3 months ago by gumdrop
5.0 out of 5 stars The book is as good as the series
Solid background for an unusually sensible series. Written well, too. If you enjoyed the Wire, you'll like to book as well.
Published 7 months ago by Veli M
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for The WireFans.
Got this for my. Son ,one of his stocking presses. He loves it and was thrilled to even know about it. Asked what was best bit he says All of it,!
Published 10 months ago by Deborah A. Rayment
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential ReWiring
Excellent value for money (it's a thick book) and essential reading for Wire fans. It brings home just what is so special about this series. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Jan
5.0 out of 5 stars Plenty Of Insights
Although it could be argued that Rafael Alvarez's Truth Be Told analysis of TV's The Wire contains around two-thirds of its near-600 pages of (for me) superfluous material, namely... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Keith M
3.0 out of 5 stars A reasonable companion guide, but doesn't go far enough
Ah, the humble episode guide. Once a solid mainstay of bookshop TV sections all over the world, now hunted to the brink of extinction by the internet. Read more
Published on 19 Feb 2012 by A. Whitehead
5.0 out of 5 stars Spot On
Excellent accompaniment if you are in to the series. Some spoiler stuff so worth reading each chapter after each series. Read more
Published on 22 July 2011 by Mark Irving
3.0 out of 5 stars Great book but spoiled by Kindle typesetting
Great book, but on the Kindle app (iPad, iPhone, OS X) it renders mostly in c. 16pt Courier Italic (at the smallest text setting), which makes for a truly horrible reading... Read more
Published on 5 Jan 2011 by Simon Whitaker
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential companion to the series
Although each episode is briefly described, this book is so much more than a simple guide. As well as the perspective of the creators and actors, there are fascinating insights and... Read more
Published on 23 Nov 2010 by Fermat
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