The Onion Field

  • by Joseph Wambaugh
  • Narrated by Jonathan Davis
  • 18 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Hollywood. Saturday night. A broken taillight leads to a routine traffic stop. It shouldn’t have changed the lives of the four men involved, but it did. The Onion Field is the frighteningly true story of a fatal collision of destinies that would lead two young cops and two young robbers to a deserted field on the outskirts of Los Angeles, towards a bizarre execution and its terrible aftermath.
The Onion Field is the basis for the movie starring James Woods and John Savage.


What the Critics Say

“More ambitious than In Cold Blood and equally compelling.” (The New York Times)
“Wambaugh is the best in the business.” (Kathy Reichs)
“No other writer illuminates the heart beneath the badge better or more honestly than Joseph Wambaugh" (Robert Crais)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


This true story is of a murder that shocked the City of Angels, and became the impetus for dramatic change in police procedure, both in potential hostage situations, and, much later, in recognizing and understanding emotional trauma, PTSD, and survivor's guilt.

The characters are depicted with precision. I feel like I know them, or knew them, as the last of the four recently died (2012). Wambaugh is a master, a former policeman who writes with sensitive eloquence, an understanding of the people and places that makes his work leap off the page and seize your senses.

I first read this book many years ago and have never been free of its spell. The audiobook is even better. The memorable individuals, immortalized in this, Wambaugh's best work, continue to puzzle and fascinate. The onion field is very near what is now Interstate 5 in California's San Joaquin valley, just over the Grapevine from LA. I travel this road frequently, and never pass it without a nod and a prayer for the victims, the fateful events so hauntingly penned here, and the loss of innocence that touched so many people. Thank you, Joseph Wambaugh, for this historical treasure.
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- Avalon

Sublime narration from a well written book

Any additional comments?

This is my favorite true crime book. Joseph Wambaugh brings three dimensional personalities to these real life characters, without judging them; That is left up to the reader/listener. A mixture of comedy within this awful tragedy. Jonathan Davis is a superb narrator for this particular book. If you have seen the film (a must if not) Mr. Davis skillfully captures a fine interpretation of the actor's voices...especially James Wood.

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- Betty

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-23-2010
  • Publisher: Audible Studios