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Hell's Angels: Three Can Keep a Secret If Two Are Dead' Paperback – August 1, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A reporter for the Toronto Globe and Mail here examines the history and status quo of various groups of bikers (Hell's Angels are the best known) currently active in the U.S. and Canada. Lavigne describes--in overtly sensationalistic fashion--the media sensationalism that surrounds (and for a time succored) outlaw bikers, alleging that present-day gangs (Hell's Angels, Outlaws, Pagans, Bandidos) rival, and even surpass, traditional organized crime mobs in terms of revenues, organization and ruthlessness. While certain sections of the book (deep history, inter-gang feuding, an in-depth portrayal of the multiple execution of five Montreal Hell's Angels in 1985) do illuminate a relatively inaccessible subculture, the bulk of the volume is an amalgam of turgid prose, luridly violent anecdote and speculative, hyperbolic hypothesis. An assessment of bikers' attitudes toward women is couched in grossly offensive language, while a litany of security systems and weapons arsenals of gang-chapter clubhouses is merely boring.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Lyle Stuart; Carol Publishing Group ed edition (August 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0818405147
  • ISBN-13: 978-0818405143
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,061 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is poorly written. While the information is interesting, it is dated and extremely hard to follow at times. It reads like a rough draft of ideas. The information in the book is very out of date to say the least. If all one wants to do is look into the history of the club, this might be a good book if it were written with more professionalism. The way that it is written now, it has few redeeming qualities. One would have to read certain pages several times to try and understand what the author was trying to convey. Over all, it is dated and very difficult to follow even for a biker who understands what the author is writing about.
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Charlie Arabella on February 9, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was recommended to me by a CHP officer as a good resource for MC clubs' criminal history. If this is what passes for a good resource, I'd say the MC Gang-True Crime genre is ripe for a real history written by a real life honest to goodness writer.
After finishing this book, initiation in the Hell's Angels almost looks refreshing. First the good: it held interest, was a fast read, and had interesting 'facts' (the reader has to assume this is either true or not, as the author doesn't cite any specific text except, apparently, what he read in the newspapers).
However, I have to wonder if it held interest because of how awfully it was written, thus affecting a sort of voyeuristic "Where is he going with this?" kind of feeling. As to it being a fast read, I can't really account for this, as it often felt as though the whole book was the same first-draft page reprinted 339 times and shipped to the book store.
I don't know if Lavigne was going for his own 'style' here or not, a la Hemingway. What I do know is that writing a history of anything written entirely in present tense is enough to make me want to stop shaving and bathing and beat people up as I ride around on a bike trying to forget the whole experience. When did this brilliant idea surface? It's very irritating and the book suffers tremendously for it.
Also, I'm not sure anyone, including the author, reread or edited this book beyond the first draft. It seems like every 3,4,5 pages some bit of information is repeated as though it was a new thought. Very often this repetition is almost a complete letter-for-letter copy of a previous paragraph.
And another thing: could Lavigne compare MORE things to genitalia?
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Thomas S Roche on November 24, 2001
Format: Paperback
But still interesting. I'm an organized crime book junkie, so I loved much of the information in this, but it's told in such a weird, disconnected style that I wasn't sure what the point was. The author's opinion seems to be that the Hell's Angels are very naughty people and we should all be very scared of them, but I didn't get the sense that there was much of a point to the book beyond that. The main thing that works against Lavigne is that he jumps around so randomly in time that he'll be telling you about 1974 in one paragraph (in present tense) and then the next paragraph will be about 1984, with absolutely no transition. Reads like it was written by a guy on his fourth week of a bender on bad biker speed. He also rarely cites sources -- what are these, court documents? Confidential informants? Who the heck knows. Even so, the information is interesting, especially if you're a crime junkie. If you're looking for a book that makes much sense, though, look elsewhere.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 26, 1999
Format: Paperback
If you're interested in outlaw bikers, this is one of the most comprehensive books written since Hunter Thompson's HELLS ANGELS. It provides a clear understanding of what took the outlaw clubs from being about riding, fighting and women to being primarily focused on earning money and fighting the RICO laws. In addition to great background info on the Angels, there's hard to find history on the other three of the "Big Four" clubs. Although a lot of the book focuses on Canada, it's a great read and a must have for anyone interested in the outlaw biker subculture.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 13, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Yves Lavigne's unrelenting vulgarity takes away from what is otherwise an informative and well researched first-person account of the growth of the Hell's Angels growth from 50's rebels to 60's cause celebre to modern day mafia. Their ability to enforce omerta (the code of silence)among their members, at least in this account, makes them more effective, and more dangerous, than La Cosa Nostra. How much of this admittedly entertaining tale is truth and how much is fantasy? Only Mr. Lavigne and the Hell's Angels know with any certainty.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michael Tano on November 14, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is one of the most difficult books to read from a stylistic standpoint. It is choppy and seems to bounce all over the place. The editor of this book should be fired - there is way too much extra "stuff" in the text. There is so much fluff that should have been cut out that would have made this a lot easier to read. The author's choice to use slang (to the point of vulgarity) did not go over so well with me either. I understand that this is a book about the Hell's Angels - there is going to be a lot of choice language in it, but he continues to refer to the slang when describing items that are not HA quotes. I don't think this was a necessary device considering the type of book this is - it would have worked for a fictional piece, but not for something as factual as this.

There are many other books out there on the topic of the Hell's Angels or Outlaw Mototcyle Gangs. I would suggest starting elsewhere if you are looking to read about the topic. This book as some interesting parts of it, but you'd be better looking at another title.
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