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Ridin' High, Livin' Free: Hell-Raising Motorcycle Stories Paperback – April 29, 2003


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Ridin' High, Livin' Free: Hell-Raising Motorcycle Stories + Hell's Angel: The Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club + Freedom: Credos from the Road
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (April 29, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006000603X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060006037
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #590,742 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The latest literary effort from Hell's Angels chieftain Barger is "a collection of true stories, modern myths, and biker tales" submitted to him by other bikers. As such, few of them actually involve the legendary Barger. Barger selected and rewrote the stories himself (with help from the Zimmermans). He concedes that some are true while others are apocryphal, and it's up to the reader to decide which is which. Depicting fairly unspectacular hell-raisers including characters like DOA, Loaded Linda, Freewheelin' Freddy and One-Armed Paul most of the 38 tales are too uneventful to be mistaken for myth, leaving one to wonder if Barger is holding back the good stuff or whether he used up most of it in his earlier memoir, Hell's Angel. Some of the stories are engaging and even informative, such as the profile of an African-American motorcycle club and the piece detailing singer David Crosby's biker connections. But most meander toward abrupt endings, closing with a trite moral or clunky shoutout to the story's principal character. Barger illustrates a kinder, gentler rider; his characters are certainly not above wreaking a little havoc, but they're also quick to help a fallen biker or spread the word of God. The book works best when describing the simple pleasure of cruising through the American landscape at sunrise.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The sequel to Hell's Angel (2000) is a little less fresh, perhaps, but biker buffs will still find it the true stuff. Barger expounds on legal contretemps, lifestyle options ("always gas up the night before"), and singular persons he has known, his assessments and descriptions of which are priceless. Steve McQueen and David Crosby share the bill with the likes of "virtually deaf" Loaded Linda, whose favorite sound as a teen was "the roar of a pair of Harley-Davidson straight pipes" and who, no longer "the notorious biker chick," is "settled down and doing really well these days." That settling down and doing well gets to be a theme here. Most of Barger's most memorable characters--provided they are still alive--have settled down and become nominally respectable citizens. Sure, a lot of them went to jail for a while, but Sonny wants you to know that bikers are people, too. Don't ask for too many specifics about the past, and there won't be any trouble. Mike Tribby
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Samuel J. Williams on April 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I was excited when this came out, as I was going through a bit of hero worship regarding bikers. Of course, now years later and a motorcyclist myself, my awe of this life-style has paled.

Barger has to be given credit for where it is due. He's managed to make money of the Hell's Angels for fifty years now. That's pretty impressive. And to be willing to openly discuss portions of his life in that society takes guts. However, this book falls short in many areas.

One, the few stories that relate to the Hell's Angels are over-the-top. It's just too hard to believe these exploits.

Two, the non-Hell's Angels stories aren't any better. The picture painted of bikers throughout this book is that they are greasy, dirty, smelly and disgusting. Even the women profiled here are portrayed as little more than tramps.

Three, we're subjected to Barger's attempt at fiction. Atleast it's only boring, unlike his actual fiction book (DEAD IN FIVE HEARTBEATS), which is a fictionalization of his autobiography with some preposterous action sequences thrown in.

So, if you're really into juvenille biker stories, this is up your alley. If not, but you want to explore this genre, there are plenty of better books available.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By "Sid" on April 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This collection of stories from the most famous 1%'er is a must read!!! Everyone who rides for the sense of freedom and escape it provides, will enjoy each and every chapter in this book. Simple stories speak columes of what riding free is all about. For those who are dreaming of riding, make sure this is your first stop in researching the idea. From the hilarious to the humbling, this book is meaningful and well written. Thanks Sonny for another great contribution!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 6, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Throughout the book, Sonny talks about one of the Oakland Chapters members, who he referrs to as Cincinatti. Now, whether this person is himself or not, I think that this person has imbibed in way too many foreign substances. There's multiple stories of running around and talking to ghosts, taking ghosts for rides on their motorcycles, then hooking the ghost up with ol' ladies in the ghost world, etc. There were other typical Sonny Barger hidden slams about other clubs selling their old ladies in houses of ill repute, when in reality, it's much more believable were it to have been a confession. Either way, I really like the quote from Freewheelin Frank in his own book (a 60's paperback, now out of print) where he Quotes Sonny as saying: "When I make money from the patches on my back, I will no longer be a Hell's Angel". Bravo. And to think, ghosts riding on your motorcycle, eh?
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robert M. Zent on July 19, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Let's face it.... Most of us ride a motorcycle for a variety of reasons. One of them being to live out the fantasy of the outlaw biker. Sonny is the real deal and so are these stories. After you read each of them, you can close your eyes and just for a moment be transported in time to another place. This book is about all of us who seek the freedom of the road. It will give you a sense of just how special our little fraternity of "The Biker Life" is. You will come to know and identify with all of these characters and their lives.
I bought this at a book signing out here in Westwood Village, CA. What a thrill to meet Sonny and have him sign my book. The big surprise to me was that he actually talked with me for some time. We talked about his books, his life and his regrets.
When you hear him talk, it creates a mixture of fear and fascination with in your own mind. Although most of us will probably never become an official HA, this book brings the experience right into your own living room.
"Ridin' High and Livin' Free" It's a beautiful thing.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By "quick725" on August 8, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I agree 100% with the review questioning whether Sonny ran out of material; sure looks that way. The major problem with the book is that, except for a few very good passages (which is why I gave it 2 stars instead of one) it is just not interesting (then again, I almost dropped it back to 1 after reading one completely disgusting story about a biker's first success with the girl of his dreams; did they really have to include this?).In his ongoing attempt to clean up the biker 1%er image, portraying them as basically good guys who raise a little hell once in a while rather than real outlaws, Barger is forced to abandon what I'm sure would be infinitely more interesting stories. Overall really not worth the time or money.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Zimmerman's easy read of Barger's memories is a bit of history. One begins quite quickly to realize this history lacks credibility. Barger has reinvented the story of the gang-beating of Hunter Thompson. Skip Workman himself admitted in a 1967 television interview that women once in a while needed to be beaten like a rug. A woman's beating is the reason Thompson expressed his disapproval and was subsequently beaten (Workman's comments were specific to the Thompson beating). Barger softens the story in the book, as part of his overall attempt to change the reputation of the club and make them appear to be heroes. Barger further hopes to canonize himself through this self-fashioning. Once this credibility is broken, one cannot help but question the account of Barger's wife's accidental death while attempting to self abort. Barger freely admits he did not want children. As long as you are ready to indulge the over 60 Barger's attempt to use this quick read to convince you he is an American hero (he supported the Vietnam war), take a peek, it won't take much of your time.
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