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Everyone has read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and most know vaguely of this book but haven't got around to reading it. At least, that's how I saw the world from my egocentric perspective. I was jolted to finally read it by an article describing the Trump phenomenon and it's parallels to the Angels. Written about a time only shortly after my birth by a man as old as my parents it enlightened me about a culture that had previously only been a label to me. Although my bike is no hog and I don't share Hunter's insane lust for life I feel a little more whole for finally reading this classic.
The early history of America's so called outlaw bikers has always fascinated me and Hunter Thompson captures the essence of the time with fascinating and thoughtful insights into the outlaw culture real or imagined.
I really felt as though I should read one of Hunter S. Thompson’s classics because, amongst other reasons, I’m quite a fan of Gonzo Journalism. As I didn’t fancy Fear & Loathing, a book about a couple of guys getting wasted on a road trip, I opted for Hells Angels.
Where this book falls down – and I’m willing to admit it’s partly my fault for expecting more – is that it was written in ’66 and published in ’67 mainly about events that happened in ’64 and ’65. There are occasional mentions of ’47 and A Walk on the Wild Side, but it really discusses Sonny Barger, the Oakland chapter, the Frisco chapter, the Berdoo chapter and a couple of ‘runs’ to Monterey and Bass Lake. And that’s it
In short, it’s a bore and quite a let-down. A number of Hells Angels getting drunk, motorbikes and …. Well, that’s it. Except that Thompson, for some reason, seems obsessed with how much people weigh; Frenchy weighs 135 pounds, Terry the Tramp weighs about 300 pounds, Dirty Ed weighs 225 pounds, Puff weighs 225 pound and so on. Fascinating
The book jumps about a bit, offering a potted history of the Angels over those two years, but little else.
As I said above, the book is a bore and a let-down
This book is about exactly what it says on the front cover, the 'Hell's Angels" as they were, where they came from, what they believed, how they operated and how they evolved and peaked (in terms of piquing America's interest) over the two year period Hunter set out to collaborate and verify their story by 'hanging out' with them and becoming their spokesman for the blatant truth, but in the context of the often grossly exaggerated image bestowed on them by the press and public officials.
It's a fantastic account of a way of life that few have ever seen or understood, and as usual, Hunter nails it with his brilliant accuracy and immaculate research.
This in-depth documentary, technically and historically precise, is an absolutely brilliant piece of work.
I initially bought this audiobook to listen to in the car. The CD was the wrong format for my car CD player, but that's my fault rather than the products'. However, it was very quick and easy to transfer to iTunes, and then my phone, to listen to it that way. The narrator's voice fits well with the tone of the book and he reads in an engaging manner.
The book is a great read if you have enjoyed other works by Hunter S. Thompson, or are interested in the history of the period or the Hell's Angels. It chronicles the time the author spent with a chapter of the Hell's Angels, mixed in with the wider movement at the time.
The book is just as good as when I first read it years ago. I’m pleased to have a new copy so I can enjoy it again. One downside which isn’t the fault of Amazon is the quality of the paper and printing. Penguin used to be a quality company. I’d rather pay more for a better quality than tolerate a book which is pretty close to newsprint.