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Hell's Angels (Modern Library) Hardcover – 1 Nov 1999


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library Inc; New edition edition (1 Nov. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067960331X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679603313
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.1 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 63,626 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Hunter S. Thompson is incomparably the most celebrated exponent of the New Journalism. His books include Hell's Angels, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 and Generation of Swine.

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Review

" Thompson has presented us with a close view of a world most of us would never encounter. His language is brilliant, his eye remarkable."
--"The New York Times Book Review"
" Superb and terrifying." --Studs Terkel, "Chicago Tribune"

About the Author

Hunter S. Thompson's research on the Hell's Angels involved more than a year of close association with the outlaws - riding, loafing, plotting and eventually being stomped. A native of Kentucky, he began writing as a sports columnist in Florida. He has worked on newspapers and magazines, becoming South American correspondent for the National Observer. His novels include: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, 1972 and The Great Shark Hunt. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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"California, Labor Day weekend . . . early, with ocean fog still in the streets, outlaw motorcyclists wearing chains, shades and greasy Levis roll out from damp garages, all-night diners and cast-off one-night pads in Frisco, Hollywood, Berdoo and East Oakl" Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mirabelle on 18 Dec. 2011
Format: Paperback
I first bought a 1967 copy of this book in the seventies, which is now falling to bits. So in order to read it for the six or seventh time I ordered a new copy. If you are happy to read it on the understanding that it is a very one sided version of events from Hunter S Thompson - it is a great read. You get a real feel and appreciation of what life amongst the original sixties Hells Angels must have been like, written by a clever and interesting writer in Thompson.
For a balanced and I would guess more accurate view of events you need go no further than original Angel - Sonny Barger's autobiography, in which references are made to Thompsons book, and from reading both - interesting comparisons and view points can be made.
For an acid tripping, drug and booze fuelled crazy view of the Hells Angels, and the best of all in my opinion has to be 'Freewhweelin Frank' by an early Frisco member Frank Reynolds. A great read, mainly I think because Frank comes across as wild, stoned and crazy as most of us imagine these guys were back then,
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 25 Feb. 2004
Format: Paperback
An interesting historical account of one side of 60's American Society which still remains hidden territory to this day.
Hells Angels is a well written, informative and entertaining book documenting the history of, and the author's involvement with the Hells Angels. It illustrates the conflicting views of the Angels, society, press and authorities of the mid 60's. Though the accuracy of the account is still limited to that of an outside observer, so readers may wish to also read the leader of the Oakland Hells Angels own account : Sonny S. Barger's 'Hell's Angel: The Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club' to get an insider viewpoint. The two books provide an interesting contrast in views.
Never-the-less 'Hells Angels' remains a rich and involving read which, once started, is difficult to put down - a must for all who are even mildly interested in Biker culture.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 4 Oct. 2009
Format: Paperback
Hunter S Thompson depicts the rise of the phenomenon known as Hell's Angels from the early 1950s, when they were epitomised as lonely, misunderstood rebels in the film The Wild Ones, with a young Marlon Brando playing the lead, to the mid 1960s when their favourite occupation, according to the media, was terrorizing isolated backwoods American townships by getting drunk and running amok amongst the worthy citizens. Though this did happen occasionally, the `runs' of the gangs were usually more apt to involve violence amongst the groups themselves than towards outsiders. The whole ethos of the Hell's Angels and associated gangs such as the Booze Fighters and Satan's Slaves, to name just two, was to avoid getting slammed in jail. Since they rarely had jobs, incarceration involved expensive Bond Bails, which could tie up their finances for years. Yet this ran counter to their whole way of life, which was antithetical to society's norms. A mass of contradictions occurs when trying to figure out what they really stood for.

Thompson's account is a sobering one. The media talked up even minor incidents so that a whole set of assumptions applied to anyone on a trademark Harley Davidson bike. It became `known' that they were given to rapes and gangbangs, but it emerges from the statistics that there have been very few successful convictions for rape in the history of the motorcycle gang's activities. The explanation given is that they don't need to rape since a coterie of girls known as Mamas accompany them on their `runs' and are available for anyone. In any case, by the 1960s many Hell's Angels were married, with families, and wives came on the `runs' too. The female hierarchies are fascinating - wives had the power and the protection, anyone else was fair game.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Donald on 26 Mar. 2010
Format: Paperback
Hunter S. lives on a dangerous tightrope trying to stay factual and alive in his expose` of life with the big 81. (8=H and 1=A) Get it? This virtually historical book is both an insight into the Angels and Hunter Thompson's mindset.

The fact that he only gets beaten up once and actually survived the experience is a testimony to his intelligence and blind luck. By taking on the role of a neutral observer, he flatters Sonny Berger and Co into giving him access to the Angels' lifestyle which few people would either risk or want. The overall impression that this book leaves in the mind is not of the Angel's apparent lust for destruction, but of the change in social values between the 70s and now. One thing that has not changed is the desire to be free of Society's constraints and this is still embodied in the motorcycle fraternity. Buy a bike, learn to handle it and hit the road.

Hunter S. illustrates the total nihilism of the Angels' lifestyle during this era of American recent history, with much to admire and also despise. There is no relevence to the present day Angels, who are smarter and more organized. Check out the Bulldog Bash if you want to see a few close-up. To sum-up: read the book and be amazed at Hunter S. Thompsons guts (stupidity?).

Steve. LW NC.
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Format: Paperback
Written in 1966 this is a classic work on the Hells Angels phenomenon that emerged out of the 1950s in Northern California. What comes through is the sheer brutality of the Angels whom Thompson chose to describe throughout his narrative as modern day "outlaws" in constant battle with US law enforcement authorities and respectable society, with a total lack of respect for so called morality and social ethics.

Having lived with them for a year Thompson covered every aspect of the Angels' culture: the almost religious worship of their Harleys, the subjugation of their women folk and the gang bangs, drug dealing and brutal violence as well as, from the late 60s onwards, their flirtation with the tune-in-drop-out hippie generation. Its an astonishing piece of gonzo journalism, an example of how to get inside the hearts and minds of the subject.

As a reader and student of 20th century history I came away with the conclusion that the Hells Angels were an inevitable product of a society founded on the principles of self preservation and freedom, yet they also embodied America's dark, dangerous and romantic underbelly.
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