From Publishers Weekly
The rebellious, high-octane spokesman for the "biker lifestyle without boundaries," Barger now rides his customized Harley in Arizona, seeking "the Zen of the highway." The iconoclastic author of the memoir Hell's Angels
and the novel Dead in 5 Heartbeats
now offers a useful guide to maintaining personal freedoms and self-respect on streets mean and otherwise. As might be expected, Miss Manners and Dale Carnegie are left in the dust (with precepts such as "screw fightin' fair") as the fiercely independent Barger rolls out his practical, mostly straight-arrow advice, beginning with a warning: "When you break new earth, you'll instantly be considered an outsider." His experiences in the military, prison and on the road have not only shaped Barger's personal philosophy, they serve as his primary metaphors, e.g., "Life is one long boot camp and only extreme and strenuous life experience can turn you into the complete soldier." In addition to tips on confronting bullies, Barger covers everything from survival skills and self-reliance to teamwork and trust ("My friends are my family"). While many of Barger's 50 precepts are standard self-help fare, rudderless teens needing lessons in confidence, courage, honesty and individuality may find Barger more of a kindred spirit than, say, the Chicken Soup
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After a couple of memoirs, a novel, and an anecdote collection, Barger presents words to live by, aimed at chopper pilots but actually for everyone. The wisdom arises from Barger's colorful past as a kingpin in the Oakland, California, and national Hell's Angels. Some of it is obvious. "If you're gonna ride, wear leather," for instance, is, as well as damn fine fashion advice, solid counsel for hurling oneself down the highway on a two-wheeled motor vehicle. "Screw fightin' fair" is a little more esoteric, but "Do you fight fair or do you fight to win?" Barger asks before recalling the time when "a group decided to invade our gathering with weapons, clubs, knives, and baseball bats" (this was at a book signing, not a catalogers' meeting about replacing AACR2). As to management theory and practice, "Only one person can ride a motorcycle," Barger intones, which correlates to his bottom line on life: take control of it. And if you're "gonna take a beating[,] . . . fight back." The icon hath spoken. Mike TribbyCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved