Gonzo journalist and literary roustabout Hunter S. Thompson flies with the angels—Hell’s Angels, that is—in this short work of nonfiction.
“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 Oakland, heading for the Monterey peninsula, north of Big Sur. . . The Menace is loose again.”
Thus begins Hunter S. Thompson’s vivid account of his experiences with California’s most notorious motorcycle gang, the Hell’s Angels. In the mid-1960s, Thompson spent almost two years living with the controversial Angels, cycling up and down the coast, reveling in the anarchic spirit of their clan, and, as befits their name, raising hell. His book successfully captures a singular moment in American history, when the biker lifestyle was first defined, and when such countercultural movements were electrifying and horrifying America. Thompson, the creator of Gonzo journalism, writes with his usual bravado, energy, and brutal honesty, and with a nuanced and incisive eye; as The New Yorker pointed out, “For all its uninhibited and sardonic humor, Thompson’s book is a thoughtful piece of work.” As illuminating now as when originally published in 1967, Hell’s Angels is a gripping portrait, and the best account we have of the truth behind an American legend.
Hunter S. Thompson
Brand: Modern Library
Used Book in Good Condition
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Hell's Angels and the outlaw biker gang phenomenon have always made for interesting discussion. One needs only to recall some of those B movies made in the 1960's about the Hells Angels and how many "ordinary" folks fantasized about living the life of a biker gang memeber. This book was written as sort of an expose'into the lives of "typical" biker gang members. It follows the history of the group from the end of World War II up to about 1966. I found it an enjoyable, easy read when I first read it 20-some odd years ago. I think the reader will come away with the understanding of why some individuals find the biker lifestyle an expression of total freedom, albeit within the seedier side of society. Anyone with an interest in the subject matter would find this a good book to buy.
I'm always surprised when fans of the great Doctor tell me they haven't read Hell's Angels. Sure, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is probably his most humorous work, and some say it is the most profound. Fair enough. But Hell's Angels has much more substance, and it has a sort of historical significance about it for Thompson fans. It is the story not only of the famous biker gang, but, on a less obvious level, the events that shaped the character of Hunter S. Thompson and made him a true master of modern literature. It also shows what a gutsy journalist can do (and become) when he throws himself into a story. I've been a journalist going on 12 years now, and I blame Thompson for my sorry fate. Reading Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas when I was a high school senior led me to this "low trade," as the good Doctor would put it, but reading "Hell's Angels" several years ago reminded me why I chose this field and gave me the guts to stick with it, despite having to work...
Hunter holds himself back and lets the story tell itself. That's is both good and bad. I am a big fan of his Gonzo-style and must admit I missed it. In "Hell's Angels" his writing style was supplanted by the lifestyle he adopted for a year in order to journalize the "trips" of the notorious California Motorcycle gang. Unless you were previously exposed to some (true) stories of the Hell's Angels, much of this book will be eye-opening for the gang did and didn't do. I hadn't been and only knew the myth perpatrated by the media. Hunter does his best to expose the NY Times, Time Magazine and others for their taget-picking, fear-baiting, if-we-printed-it-it-must-be-real style of reporting and de-myths many of the groups exploits. Hunter focuses his story of two or three "runs" the Angel's take. He captures the anti-social attitudes and behaviors of the gang without judging and relates the booze, pills, sex and thuggery stories without...
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