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Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga Paperback – September 29, 1996


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Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga + Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream + The Rum Diary: A Novel
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 273 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1st Ballantine Books trade ed edition (September 29, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345410084
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345410085
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (240 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,382 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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

From the Inside Flap

"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 no-torious motorcycle gang, the Hell's Angels.   In the mid-1960s, Thompson spent almost two years living with the controversial An-gels, 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.







From the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Hunter S. Thompson's books include Fear and Loathing in America, Screwjack, Hell's Angels, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Proud Highway, Better Than Sex, The Rum Diary, and Kingdom of Fear. He was contributor to various national and international publications, including a weekly sports column for ESPN Online. Thompson died February 2005.

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Customer Reviews

Very interesting and highly recommendable.
Bo Østergaard Jepsen
Hell's Angels is an all-time enduring classic by the late "Gonzo" journalist Hunter S. Thompson.
JON STRICKLAND
The story is very interesting and at times quite hilarious.
Tyler Ransom

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Jeffery S. Anderson on January 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
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.
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106 of 115 people found the following review helpful By William A. Marsh on August 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
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 embellishment (or so it seemed to me). Read this book if you've ever wondered what the gang life was like for this group of misfits '60's drop-outs. Read this book if you enjoy HST and his eye for the real story.
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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 23, 1997
Format: Paperback
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 for a wimpy newspaper publisher who eventually fired me for stirring up too much trouble with businesses owned or controlled by his millionaire friends. Thanks, Hunter. You bastard
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
I expected this book to be exciting and trippy like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I was surprised to find that it is actually a pretty serious book about what really happens when the Hell's Angels hit the road and bring their version of Brotherly Love to a town near you. The ideas and beliefs of the Hell's Angels are far from the mainstream and Thompson tells about them in a way that is easy to understand. Thompson portrays the Hell's Angels not as heroes or villans, but as a disorganized rabble of people who are basically losers. People who need a group to get along in this world. This book helped me get a perspective on just a piece of the turmoil that was the 60's.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By JON STRICKLAND on June 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Hell's Angels is an all-time enduring classic by the late "Gonzo" journalist Hunter S. Thompson. It is a very interactive, very detailed description of one's affiliation with the dreaded motorcycle outlaws known as the Hell's Angels. The writing style is quite fascinating, for if it were not based on actual accounts or the interpretations thereof, it would be a most fascinating series of pulp fiction stories.

The group, Hell's Angels, is described as a group of unhygienic individuals who have no particular goals in life and who know that the roads they travel will lead to no success. They are highlighted as those who know that they are in financial and social oblivion and that their situations are only going to get worse. They are characterized, with the exception of a rare few, as uneducated bums with no purpose in the long run and who choose to live for the moment by going to bars, drinking heavily, engaging in unspeakable sexual acts, and torturing those who "get in their way" psychologically, physically and sexually.

An intermittent account of how the Hell's Angels, especially the lower-ranking members, are portrayed is laden with paradoxes. Comparisons are drawn between their physical attributes and those of the bikes they ride. On the one hand, the Angels are the sloppiest individuals of the worst kind, yet their bikes are lovely, well-maintenanced machines of thoroughly polished chrome and steel. In one recollection, Thompson mentioned that when off their bikes, they appeared as clueless, spastic, inane and inarticulate dolts, but when they got on their bikes, they became transformed into something quite the opposite, which entitled them to being Kings of the Road.
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